Don't be a Franchise Zombie!

I just watched a zombie movie on the plane. I'm by no means an expert on zombies but it appears, besides attacking and eating people, their most frightening characteristic is an inability to think or feel. They just trudge around mindlessly most of the time. I mention this because many of us occassionally act a little like zombies in how we engage (or perhaps don't engage) with the world.

The thing about zombie behaviour is, because you're not thinking clearly, you're not aware of it until someone later points it out. So I thought it would be useful to share some zombie signs I've seen over the years in our work with franchisees and franchisors, as well as some preventative measures.

Franchisee symptoms

  • Glazing over and not listening when receiving unpalatable feedback that requires a change in attitude or behaviour.
  • Snapping at well meaning field managers because of pent up anger over unmet expectations.
  • Lurking around or hiding up the back at conferences and meetings, disengaged or distracted.
  • Using group forums as opportunities to launch a mob attack and maul the franchisor team.
  • Not reading or responding to franchisor materials, except an occasionally grunt.

Franchisor symptoms

  • Mouthing soulless corporate objectives without considering franchisee goals and aspirations.
  • Being rigid and unresponsive to franchisee requests to have input into decisions that affect them.
  • Clumsily rolling out change programs that have not been properly thought out.
  • Attacking franchisees who stray from the pack without first trying to understand why they strayed.
  • Feeding on franchisees heart and passion while simultaneously expecting them to be passive and compliant.

Keeping your inner zombie in check

The antidote to behaving like a zombie is not that complicated, although that doesnt mean it's easy. Here are some strategies you might find useful.

  1. Practice empathy in discussions with others. Taking the time to appreciate another's perspective, especially when different from yours, shows you respect them as a person.
  2. Hold strong opinions loosely. Being prepared to change your mind in the face of new evidence is a sign of intellectual courage and wisdom.
  3. Pay close attention to what you're doing. Striving for excellence, especially in the little things, is a noble sign of a master practitioner.
  4. Consider how your behaviour and decisions impact on others. Life is web of connections and every move you make has its reverberations.
  5. Take responsibility for what is happening in your life. Your circumstances are largely a result of the decisions and actions you have or have not taken. The truth is, what happens next is largely up to you.

By the way, the zombie movie I watched was called Warm Bodies and it had a message that, with a bit of love and a lot of effort, we can conquer just about anything. If you can handle a bit of gore it's actually quite a warm hearted movie.

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