Self-Assessment Quiz ─ TRUE or FALSE:
- No one notices me at work; it doesn’t matter if I work hard or not.
- My boss doesn’t really pay attention to my work and how I do it.
- Sometimes meetings are called and I’m not included; I don’t bother to tell anyone.
Last week, I talked about being too bubbly at work and how that can be a turnoff. Well, this week, we’ve gotta address the deadbeat – the person with no pulse whatsoever who just sort of shows up to work super basic. She comes in, does her job (barely), and leaves—and does a rinse and repeat of that each and every boring, basic day. You know who she is, and she’s called a “Ghost Employee.” To be more specific, when it comes to employee fraud for example, a ghost employee is someone who’s on the payroll and doesn’t actually work at the company. Now do you get my drift?
If you answered TRUE to the questions above, here are three signs that you’ve become basic and have decided to ghost in your role — that is, you show up, but that’s about it:
- Feeling invisible – You literally feel like no one notices you. Therefore you make no effort to contribute. I mean after all, what’s the point? This can happen in a very large company OR a small company.
- Feeling undervalued – You’re super smart, yet your boss claims your ideas as his own, or he keeps assigning you no-brainer projects just so he doesn’t have to do them. You didn’t go to college for this!
- Feeling left out – You’ll see colleagues from other verticals being invited to big meetings, but you aren’t invited to represent your team. You figure you’re not supposed to be there, but hey, what gives?
I get it. You’ve shut down, and now you just exist. If you’re feeling this way, chances are things weren’t this way when you started or you wouldn’t have been hired.
I’m from the school of thought that believes people don’t leave their companies, they leave their managers. Chances are all three of these problems have to do with your direct manager. He or she is not managing you well – at all! Now, if you haven’t been showing initiative, or you’re visibly bored at work, or something of the sort, then you’ve gotta take responsibility for that. However, your direct manager needs to step it up!
- She should make sure that you ARE seen and heard, whether it is literally moving your desk from some obscure utility closet or off a floor in the building that doesn’t include your department and onto one that does. That you are invited to meetings where you will be allowed to showcase your skill sets. That you are given additional professional development opportunities by being recommended for any leadership training programs your company may offer. But I can’t let you off the hook entirely on this one — when was the last time you ASKED to be moved, included or recommended?
- She should also know what skills you bring to the table and should be maximizing them. If you think she needs a refresher, set a meeting with her to remind her how great you are at project management, or take some initiative to volunteer for a project outside your wheelhouse and show her!
- And if you’re being left out, that’s a huge problem. It could be the result of an assistant forgetting to add you to an email distribution list (uh, your manager should have noticed), or it could be that you said via your actions and even body language that you don’t want to be a part of the team. (Yup, your manager should have noticed!) But again, you have every right to question what criteria was used for including others but not you.
It’s never too late to course correct, my friend. Like I said, get up the gumption to talk to your boss. Get feedback on what’s happening. Explain how you’re feeling. Let’s give him the benefit of the doubt and first assume he isn’t aware of the constant oversights. Or your desire to be more engaged, visible and heard. For those managers, most will appreciate your input. For those who are intentionally leaving you out of the equation — you were soaring prior to being assigned to this manager — something larger is at play here. I need you to put on your Nancy Drew cap and figure out what it is. Did your manager inherit you (or your team) reluctantly? Does she feel threatened by you — i.e. that you’ll show her up if the two of you are in the same room at the same time? (That’s a real thing you know. It’s not in your imagination. And under no circumstances do I recommend that you ever play small to make someone else appear larger or more important. However, understand the importance of making your boss shine through your actions. There is a difference between the two strategies, so learn the nuances quickly before you start getting left out).
Being a manager isn’t easy. And the last thing any manager wants is a ghost employee on her team. Why? Because ghosting is CONTAGIOUS! If you aren’t quarantined you infect other employees who will stop giving their 110% as well and start coasting. Now there’s a tumbleweed epidemic in a graveyard of an office and in no way is that loss of productivity good for your boss’s bottom line. So any good manager will need to nip your ghosting behavior in the bud.
The real moral here? If you don’t like your job, just leave! Leaving is always a viable option that should never be underestimated. Life is too short to be dead at work. It’s not healthy for you or your work environment. So stop being a basic B and fix this situation one way or another.