Less Ghosting, More Commitment, the Covid-era Staffing Challenge

Working through layers can help today’s Covid-era organizations adapt to change and may result in less ghosting, more commitment. Process tools including advisory teams can help by providing engagement that is crucial in our volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous world (VUCA), They can also help access insights easily missed in layers or styles of management.

The No Shows – Ghosting and Staffing problems, Photo by Skylar Kang on Pexels.com

These are a sign of the times we’re in: disrupted supply chains, shortages of everything from toilet paper and pool chlorine to baby formula, and labor shortages. Part of this is job candidates refusing high stress, low pay jobs that they tolerated in the past. Ghosting, a term applied to dating, is now used to define no shows both for employer AND employees. What used to be a term applied to dating now defines disappearing from: 1) a scheduled job interview (both job candidate and employer1), 2) one party vanishing from the interview process, and 3) not showing up the first day on the job and not being reachable, therefore finding yourself “ghosted.”

The ghosting trend, according to the Indeed company, may not last, especially as it can carry with it negative consequences for anyone who does it.

  • 77% of job seekers say they’ve been ghosted by an employer (this reputation gets around, damaging future candidate prospects)
  • 93% of employers keep records of ghosters
  • 80% of employers believe candidates who ghost will experience negative impacts on their future job search or career, compared to 70% in 2019.2 
Photo by Anna Shvets on Pexels.com

To turn this around, change the conversations: increase communication, respond to emails quickly, be as transparent as possible, and show you care. Not only does this increase the chance of hiring a quality candidate, if there is one to be had, it’s a long running strategy for success when managing change. The same applies to being the selected, motivated best candidate for the job. Even the smallest gesture of caring enough to send a text, email or note of status updates, which can be semi-automated, can make a big difference in avoiding ghosting.

When leaders open to the door to listening and involving staff in gathering data to plan change, such as using a design or advisory team, the power of voice is remarkable in its capacity to build commitment and insight. I’ve used this team process for decades with good success, and it does build commitment. I use the term advisory team here to avoid confusion with technology uses of design team.

The advisory team’s advantage is helping successful change happen via the multifaceted perspective it brings to designing data collection details: developing questions, doing the group analysis of survey or interview themes as well as bringing the experience of the process itself to the organization. The team is staffed by those that represent a microcosm of the organization made up of respected members working with an experienced process consultant. I ask leaders to draw the staffing of a the advisory team from “vertical” slice of respected people throughout the organization, having different levels of experience and perspective. It is also important to invite and not cajole those to serve on the team. When done right, the result is a “Max-Mix” group or team, a term coined by the late Kathy Dannemiller, one of the godparents of the field of Organization Development.

Photo by Eric Sanman on Pexels.com

An advisory team is at its best when those on it contain a full range of views that existing employees would agree is robust enough to represent them, while finding appropriate ways, working with me, to gather data from everyone in the organization that will help leadership guide the organization forward.

Leaders don’t force people to follow. They invite them on a journey.

~ Charles S. Lauer

There are some cynics. One reason is the belief that survey and data gathering interviews are not reliable or trustworthy. One view is that people (employees, customers, staff) don’t know what they really want, or don’t have the innovation capacity to anticipate what is needed next. It’s the Henry Ford adage, “If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses.” First of all, the quote is a myth4. What is real is Henry Ford’s creation of a new standard of living that “set a pattern of abundance for 20th century living,” as quoted from a Highland Park, Michigan historical marker.

My experience with advisory teams has been the following to counter the cynicism:

  • Galvanizing a group of physicians to change the process of how residents are mentored by their supervising physician, while responding to a negative story that persisted for years
  • Changing a promotion structure and providing a preferred working environment to help retain staff longer, while changing the leadership mix
  • Rooting out the source of persistent rumors about sexual harassment and dealing effectively with the problem
  • Identifying hidden staffing problems to implement a different leadership approach
  • Changing a culture promoting gossip by replacing it with better understood ways to report complaints and concerns
At the Model T factory, here was chronic absenteeism and lots of worker turnover. So Ford gambled that higher wages would attract better, more reliable workers.”It was an absolute, total success,” Bob Kreipke, corporate historian for the Ford Motor Co. says.
“In fact, it was better than anybody had even thought.”

History also is worth a look in how powerful good data is when it is amped with a solid process. For example: back in 1914 in Detroit, the revolutionary pay that Henry Ford offered at the time was $5 a day, for eight hours which translates today to approximately $120 in today’s money. “It was mainly to stabilize the workforce. And it sure did…. And raised the bar all over the world,” say Bob Kreipke, corporate historian for the Ford Motor Co. By 1925, Ford’s Model T factory made over 9,000 Model T’s each day, based on Ford’s innovation, the creation of a virtuous cycle of “any color as long as it’s black” type of design standardization. This allowed him, for awhile, to refine the moving assembly line process, cutting costs so that Ford Motor Company grew from 10,000 cars manufactured in 1908 close to a million cars in the early 1920s. Ford’s pay also created the middle class as a by product of fully staffing the factory floor.5

This DollarTree location in Ann Arbor, Michigan changed from being closed one day a week to three due to staffing shortages. April 2022.

Later GM surpassed Ford because GM’s vision better matched the changing reality of what customers wanted. Today’s global supply chains, now disrupted by the pandemic, politics, technology changes compete with the need to stabilizing the workforce. “There are very real economic pressures out there that push down on wages,” says University of California, Berkeley, labor economist Harley Shaiken. “So it’s not a simple story, but that doesn’t mean that there isn’t a core truth into what Ford found.5.

The greatest danger in times of turbulence is not the turbulence – it is to act with yesterday’s logic.

~ Peter Drucker

Data, which spotlights motivating dissatisfaction changes over time. Combine this knowledge of Dissatisfaction with an accurate vision and first steps, and you have the DVF model in action. Dissatisfaction and Vision are mighty warriors in dealing with the need to continuous adapt to change. A key in this process is finding the right actions6 to respond to the data. DVF stands for dissatisfaction (D) combined with a vision (V) that responds to the present situation and anticipates future needs followed by first steps (FS) to create movement to create positive change. Advisory teams are helpful human engines in this process because the people who form them work with an external consultant (who also brings perspective). Advisory groups learn through working with collected data what the voice of the organization is, and are then poised engage as leadership makes decisions about first steps to change.

All rights reserved by original owner,
Concept by Kathie Dannemiller

There are 6 key elements for advisory team success to help produce D x V x F > (to overcome) Inertia or Resistance to Change

1) Care about what your staff thinks and wants. You will not pass go without this, unless your organization is set up for high turnover.

2) Have the will to listen. The advisory team needs a charge that is often centered around delivering a themed report having to do with several areas of interest and possible dissatisfaction defined by leadership.

3) Embrace the representative, microcosm team structure. The max-mix, respected and able structure of each advisory team member role is central its success. Some teams that have very limited time and resources may function more as a nimble group.

4) Agree on truth to power. Advisory teams sometimes struggle in delivering hard news. Both the consultant and/or to leadership need to support the team in getting the vital work done, to the finish line, and not waffling in the process.

Open Space creates engagement and insights not normally accessible in traditional, agenda oriented gatherings.

5) Learn about and use current and classic tools that empower good data collection. Use of Appreciative Inquiry, Open Space, Word Café, Liberating Structures, Preferred Futuring and other process approaches can enliven and encourage the sharing of high quality data. See other examples on my Tools page.

6) Agree to guidelines (team members, leaders). It’s basic, but needed. Team members agree to self-developed guidelines such as confidentiality, commitment to the task, sharing talk time.

Photo by Anastasia Shuraeva on Pexels.com

The toolkit that I use when I work with advisory teams includes: a project overview, the advisory (design) team purpose and guidelines, a timeline, the data gathering process (confidentiality), and tools.

When an advisory team and report process has concluded, the results speak for themselves, via the bulleted list above. A bonus benefit to those who’ve been involved in the advisory team process, both the leaders and members of the team, is that they now have both process knowledge on adaptive change and increased readiness for change. In a VUCA world, one that is Volatile, Uncertain, Complex and Ambiguous, it’s not only a solid byproduct of teamwork like this, it’s becoming an expectation of needed skills.

Learn more, have a chat. Contact Deb via email or phone here.

Related Posts:


  1. Greenhouse Study Shows Job Seekers Face Lengthy Applications, Slow Recruiter Response Times, Ghosting And Unprepared, Late Interviewers, Forbes, 2022
  2. Employer Ghosting: A Troubling Workplace Trend Kristy Threlkeld February 11, 2021
  3. Why workers and employers are ghosting each other
    By Alex Christian 15th March 2022
  4. Henry Ford, Innovation, and That “Faster Horse” Quote
    by Patrick Vlaskovits August 29, 2011
  5. The Middle Class Took Off 100 Years Ago … Thanks To Henry Ford? January 27, 2014 Heard on All Things Considered, Sarah Cwiek
  6. As described regarding leadership coaching that I do, Right Action exists when the…
At the Henry Ford, Dearborn, Michigan,
photo by Deb Nystrom
  • Right people are doing the
  • Right things in the
  • Right way at the
  • Right time for the
  • Right reasons in the
  • Right space for the
  • Right results.

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.

Published by dnrevel

Change & transition, Leadership team & organization development. Executive Leadership team coach. My LinkedIn profile: http://www.linkedin.com/in/dnrevel

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