Step with us into the world of Workplace Nightmares, where the horrors are real and the stakes are high. Dark secrets lurk behind office doors, and this spooky season, it’s up to you to save yourself. But you’re not alone. We have some tricks to help you survive as you face the ghouls and goblins of the corporate world.
It’s 4pm and the light is fading. You were hoping to go home, to make it before dusk. But there it is, in your calendar: another meeting. You click “join” or – more horrifying still – shuffle into a conference room. There’s a sea of faces: colleagues herded in like lambs for the slaughter. The meeting begins, but it soon becomes apparent that this isn’t a gathering for sharing productive information. No, this is a ritualistic draining of your life force.
Your eyes begin to glaze over as you stare at someone’s screen. You turn pale as someone drones on about takeaways, KPIs, status reports. You think, “this could have been an email”. It ends, eventually, but by then it’s too late. You’re pale, dead inside. You feel as if you’ve lived for 500 years. You’ve just survived the Vampiric Meeting.
But just like vampires can be deterred, Vampiric Meetings too have a weakness, and it lies in effective communication.
How to hunt the vampire
Meetings, at their most basic, are about bringing people together around a core goal. They should be making communication easier, and allowing people to connect and work collaboratively. If you’re leaving them drained and lifeless, something is wrong.
- Stake through the heart: Get right to the heart of the matter. Start each meeting with a clear goal and desired outcome, and get straight to the point.
- Let the sunlight in: Shine a light on your processes, communication tools, and needs as a team. Consider how you communicate, and set time as a team to discuss a working agreement.
- Garlic to ward off imposters: Limit the attendees to those who really need to be there. Some of the most productive meetings involve only the teams working on a project. If managers try to derail the meeting, get out the garlic.
- Douse your team in Holy Water: The key to great meetings is great facilitation. Upskill your teams with a course on Facilitation techniques.
You enter the office on a Monday morning to a horrifying scene: soulless colleagues trudge around the office with vacant eyes. The relentless grind of day to day life has bitten, and now they’re shells of their former selves. The burnout zombies clack away on keyboards, stare at their screens, and shuffle through the hallways, just going through the motions until the summer holidays arrive.
But all is not lost. This zombie apocalypse has an antidote.
How to end the burnout zombie apocalypse
- Go for the head: Don’t mess around cutting off limbs and fingers: you need to face the situation head-on. Clear goals, co-created with the team, are the number one way to reduce burnout, and restore life into your zombies.
- Quarantine: Zombies infect one another, and you need to contain the infection. Encourage those who need it to take time off to recover.
- Find the antidote: Working at a sustainable pace with a culture of support is the key to bringing your burnout zombies back to their human form. Try a Kanban course to introduce a visualized workflow, and ensure that your team members are self-organizing around their tasks.
The Micromanagement Monster
This ghastly creature breathes down your neck with an insatiable desire for control, haunting your every move and decision. It thrives on excessive scrutiny, nitpicking, and a compulsion to make every little decision related to your work. Beware its watchful eyes, for the Micromanagement Monster saps your creativity, stifles your independence, and erodes your confidence. It leaves no room for autonomy, turning even the simplest tasks into excruciating ordeals.
But fear not, for with the right strategies, you can ward off this oppressive force, reclaim your workspace, and breathe freely once more.
How to defeat the Micromanagement Monster
It’s a tough monster to deal with, because micromanagement is not a reflection on your or your work. Micromanagement comes from within: micromanagers crave control, and to really combat this, it requires the managers themselves to invest in training, growth, and change.
- Shine a light under the bed: Micromanagement thrives when communication shuts down. Address the issue directly, and express your desire for trust and autonomy. You might also want to work on your soft skills.
- Teamwork: It’s a well known fact that even the bravest heroes need a team to take down a monster. Check out our Team Dynamics course to learn to harness the power of teamwork.
- Send them to monster school: Managers are out, leaders are in! A short leadership course could pave the way for growth and change.
The Conflict Cauldron is a bubbling pot of tension and discord, steadily heating up within the workplace. Like a volatile potion, it threatens to boil over if left unattended. The cauldron’s contents are a mix of unresolved disputes, unspoken grievances, and interpersonal conflicts, all simmering away in a toxic brew. It emits an air of unease, with coworkers treading cautiously to avoid triggering an eruption.
These unaddressed issues have immense destructive potential, but with the right ingredients you can turn this potion into something magical.
How to turn the conflict cauldron into special sauce
Taming this cauldron requires proactive conflict resolution and open communication to defuse the brewing turmoil.
- Write the recipe: Conflict isn’t a bad thing! It’s an opportunity. Learn how to handle conflict better and have explicit agreements in place, and your team can make magic.
- Summon the coven: A witch is stronger with a coven. When you all come together over the pot, and communicate about needs and set goals, you turn the sickly bubbling mess into a potion for success.
- Stir the pot: It’s important that you don’t leave conflict bubbling away unattended. Make sure you regularly engage with one another, open up communication, and crucially, understand how your team works together.
Fire-breathing Feedback Dragon
Meet the Fire-breathing Feedback Dragon—a formidable creature lurking in the shadowy depths of workplace evaluation. This fearsome beast has the uncanny ability to belch out scorching feedback, reducing confidence and morale to ashes. With every performance review or feedback session, it unleashes a fiery torrent of criticism, searing the self-esteem of even the most resilient employees. But fear not, brave professionals, for there are many strategies to tame this fiery fiend.
How to slay the dragon
Put on your bravest face to face the Feedback Dragon head-on, and you have the power to turn its flames of criticism into a catalyst for growth and personal development.
- Don your fireproof armor: The best way to arm yourself against the flames is to focus on protecting yourself. But this isn’t about growing a thicker skin and letting the flames wash over you. Make sure you understand the goals and the big picture, and that you and your team communicate well. Set boundaries, strive for balance, and take the time to learn and grow in your role.
- Combat with a sword: Every dragon has a weak spot, and in the workplace it is “being direct”. A fire-breathing dragon expects you to recoil and run in fear. When you react calmly, and give feedback directly, you can disarm the dragon and encourage it to see you for the intelligent, brave soul you are.
- Dracarys: Sometimes a dragon’s powers can be used to raze a city; other times they can be used to fiercely defend the things that matter most. Allow yourself to see the dragon’s strengths, and find ways to work together. Everyone knows dragons do their best work when they are treated with kindness, once you overcome your initial fear.
- Bring in the dragon-slayer: If feedback is frequently both negative and surprising, it can indicate that there’s a communication breakdown. A Product Owner can help communication by serving as the point of contact between the team and stakeholders. Regular meetings, if well facilitated, can also keep communication healthy and effective.
Project Management Poltergeist
Introducing the Project Management Poltergeist—a mischievous specter in the haunted halls of project management. Just when you thought you had a clear plan in place, the Poltergeist swoops in with changes to the brief, leaving your project team bewildered. Its spectral laughter echoes through the virtual meeting rooms, as it revels in introducing surprises that send timelines into disarray.
But fear not, for we’ve concocted some spellbinding strategies to ward off this ghostly trickster, ensuring your projects stay on track and free from its spectral meddling.
How to exorcize the poltergeist
- Burn sage: Sage is known for its spiritual powers to cleanse the space and restore tranquility. The workplace equivalent? Cleaning up your project management tools and visualizing your workflow! Kanban can help you keep track of things, and the transparency of a shared Kanban board can make sure there are no surprises for anyone along the way.
- Speak its name: When you learn a poltergeist’s name, it no longer has power over you. In fact, you’ll be the one in charge. Take time to get to know the bothersome ghoul and identify its unfinished business. Find common ground and communicate about how its behavior affects productivity and team morale. Sometimes, all it takes is a simple conversation to disarm even the scariest of ghouls.
- A team seance: Host regular reviews with the team and stakeholders to ensure alignment. Scrum is a great framework for this, as it prioritizes communication, a sustainable pace, and an iterative and adaptive approach.
- Exorcism: If all else fails, it’s time to bring out the big guns.Call on the High Priest (in your organization, maybe that’s Human Resources, the Product Owner, Project Manager, or your team leader) to perform an exorcism and intervene from a position of power. That way the ghoul will have no choice but to change its behavior, or face eternal damnation
Need help facing down your own workplace horrors?
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