Have you ever experienced 'ghosting' in the workplace?

August 7, 2018 Caitlin Leishman

A term common in the dating world, ghosting in fact happens in many areas of our lives, even in the workplace. Ghosting essentially refers to inadequate communication, such as neglecting to reply to emails or phone calls, seeming disinterested in workplace connections, and a lack of clarity surrounding expectations. This trend is quickly gaining steam in the workplace for a variety of reasons and is having a negative impact on engagement and morale. There are two ways that ghosting can occur, either on the part of the employer or the potential employee. Whether you’re trying to get in touch with someone who is no longer responding to your emails, or you’ve been interviewed many times but haven’t heard anything back, ghosting can be difficult to deal with. Thankfully, there are strategies for both employees and employers for tackling this sensitive issue.

First, don’t fear confrontation. Although giving feedback to an unsuccessful applicant can be difficult, it is even worse to leave them in the dark about the status of their application. Negative feedback, although not the most pleasant to give, is actually very helpful and can go a long way towards helping someone improve their performance for next time. Competencies are a good way to make this feedback easier to deliver, as they give employers an objective basis for their decision making. This way candidates won’t perceive their lack of selection as being based on subjective criteria or bias.

As a candidate, by asking the interviewer for a prospective hiring timeline you’ll have a timeline to use to follow up. If you don’t hear from them by the proposed date, don’t be afraid to send an email and be persistent. Hiring gets delayed for a variety of reasons, and by reminding them of your interest you are more likely to be successful.

If you notice a fellow employee in your workplace ghosting someone else, it’s important to speak up and educate them on the importance of providing feedback. This is especially effective and important if you are a manager, and you are encouraging your employees to continue to work to improve your organization. If you’re being ghosted by someone you work with, take the time to ask for clear deadlines and set responsibilities early in projects. Keep lines of communication open and remember that management is there to help facilitate discussion if needed.

Unfortunately, sometimes your boss is the one doing the ghosting. Although it’s important to remember that managers have many responsibilities and may naturally take longer to get back to you, you need to inform them if it is negatively impacting your work. When meeting with your boss, make sure you explain how they are crucial in helping you meet your goals, and how their contributions allow you to get your work done effectively. By making the conversation about the success of everyone involved, you are more likely to see positive results.

As you can see, ghosting in the workplace is a complicated issue that takes many forms. However, the solution is a simple one. Keep effective lines of communication open, and make the effort to reach out to colleagues, job applicants, managers, interviewers, etc. Don’t leave anyone hanging without a clear answer or explanation, and you’ll find that you see an overall increase in your own productivity, relationships with coworkers, and organizational success.

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