Is an Office Vampire Draining Your Productivity?

Three Ways to Slay Your Office VampireYou don't need to go trick-or-treating to see vampires. Odds are good that they're in your office, and they're ruining your business life.

As a consultant on workplace morale issues, I often find that bad morale stems from one or two workers in the office who have a poor attitude about the place. Office vampires drain  valuable time and energy you could be using to run your business, or simply enjoy your life.

If you have a worker who is so frustrating to deal with that you find yourself thinking of the situation while you're spending time with your family, or hanging out with a friend, you may have a vampire in your office.

Related: Seven Steps to Superstar Employees

Luckily, there are tools you can use to deal with these vampires. Think of it as a vampire-slayer utility belt. Here's what you can bring to bear on them:

  • Pull out the garlic. Redirect the office vampire when he or she expresses something negative by changing the flavor of the subject right away. "So how about those Atlanta Braves?" OK, maybe don't talk about the Braves right now, but you get my point. Change the subject abruptly.
     
  • Hold up a mirror. In the same way that vampires can't see themselves in mirrors, most of the problems expressed by the office vampires don't turn out to be there when a mirror is held up to them. Whatever they thought was negative doesn't actually exist. The mirror actually involves recasting or reframing the conversation, acknowledging what was said, but then challenging the opinion with a more positive point of view. They might complain the weather is getting cold, but you can respond that you're looking forward to hunting season, or the holidays.
     
  • Pull out a UV flashlight. I know it can be tough, but sometimes you need to get rid of the vampire. I actually find this is hard for many business owners because they try to empathize with the vampire in their midst. But you're running a business, not a self-help group. Don't let the vampire waste your time, energy, or attention. Instead let him or her go in the quickest and most humane way possible.

Move quickly to ward off your vampires. I often find their negativity easily spreads. If you keep them around, your company could turn into a vampire clan. Then you'll really be in trouble.

Related: Five Problem Employees and What You Can Do About Them

I know this is cliché, but you actually could be doing the vampire a favor by letting him or her go. I often find that vampires act the way they do because they simply aren't in a job where they can make a unique contribution that satisfies them.

I once worked with a broadcasting group where the office manager micromanaged everything and everyone. She even busted people's chops for taking too many pens and paper clips. The company managers finally made the call and decided to help her find something else.

She went back to school and is now a minister. She's actually an excellent preacher and loves her new life. She went from making everybody miserable, to inspiring them.

What success stories will you tell from slaying the vampires around your office?

Related: Is Disorganization Sapping Your Small Business's Health?

This article originally posted on Entrepreneur.com

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