The Ghosting Epidemic in the Workplace

You’ve encountered individuals who promise to meet but never show up, claim they want to stay in touch but don’t, or offer help but vanish when needed. Ghosting is more than just an inconvenience; it’s a significant problem that can erode trust and culture within an organization.

The Impact of Ghosting

Ghosting isn’t just a social faux pas; it translates to a lack of reliability and accountability in the workplace. When someone fails to follow through on their commitments, it affects their reputation and the efficiency and morale of the entire team. Imagine preparing for a crucial meeting only to have a key participant no-show or relying on promised support for a project that never materializes. These scenarios lead to delays, added stress, and often failure of important initiatives.

The Trust Factor

Trust is the cornerstone of any successful team. When individuals consistently ghost their colleagues, it becomes clear they are not dependable. Trust is hard to build and easy to destroy, and ghosting is a fast track to breaking that trust. For leaders and senior managers, this behaviour is even more detrimental. Leaders set the tone for the entire organization. Seeing them as unreliable sends a message to the rest of the team that such behaviour is acceptable.

Culture and Morale

Its members’ behaviours and attitudes shape an organization’s culture. When ghosting becomes prevalent, it fosters a culture of distrust and disengagement. Employees are less likely to collaborate effectively if they cannot rely on their colleagues to be present and supportive. This disengagement can lead to lower morale, decreased productivity, and higher turnover rates.

The Worst Influences

Senior leaders who ghost are particularly harmful. They are supposed to be role models, embodying the organization’s values and standards. Failure to keep their commitments undermines their authority and sets a poor example for others. It also creates a toxic environment where employees feel undervalued and unsupported.

Building a Culture of Reliability

Organizations need to cultivate a culture of reliability and accountability to combat ghosting. Here are a few steps to get started:

  1. Set Clear Expectations: Ensure everyone understands the importance of following through on commitments. Clear guidelines and expectations can help prevent misunderstandings.
  2. Hold People Accountable: Create systems to track and follow up on commitments. This could be as simple as regular check-ins or as formal as performance reviews.
  3. Lead by Example: Leaders must model reliable behaviour. They should be the first to show up on time, follow through on promises, and communicate openly.
  4. Recognize and Reward Reliability: Acknowledge those who consistently meet their commitments. This positive reinforcement can encourage others to follow suit.

Ghosting is a professional liability. If you ghost people, it might be even better not to be present at all. Nothing is more hurtful than disappearing when push comes to shove.