Tuesday, November 30

The ghost can spook even best workplaces

By Tim Timmons

Editor’s Note: In the spirit of the season, we’re re-publishing four management columns this month that featured a Halloweenish theme.

Halloween is rapidly approaching.

Hearts are beating a little faster. The full moon is playing hide and seek behind ominous clouds. Somewhere in the distance, a howl is heard.

We’re using the holiday to talk a little bit about those sinister supervisors and how they can scare the career out of you. And while we work hard at staying on the path of light and goodness, we’re carefully examining the many shifty shapes those evil-doers can take. So far, we’ve gone through The Zombie and The Witch. This week, we take another step into the macabre and check out (organ music inserted here!) . . . The Ghost.

On the good side, you can usually see right through The Ghost. Their intentions, while scary, aren’t that hard to figure out. On the other hand, nothing ever sticks to The Ghost so anytime something goes wrong the blame usually flies right through them. For the unsuspecting worker who isn’t paying attention, that very same blame hits them square in the nether regions.


Of course The Ghost can be terribly menacing and fill their staffs with fear (and loathing . . . although this has nothing to do with Johnny Depp or Hunter S Thompson). They will strike when you least expect it. In truth, that’s actually what they live for. You’ll be walking down a hallway and come to a corner and BAM! There they are. Walk up to a closed door and open it. WHOA! There they are again. The Ghost absolutely takes devilish delight in scaring the pants off you and other staff members.

The good news with The Ghost is there’s very little they can do to harm you. Their supervisors see right through them as well, although it’s a mystery why they aren’t exorcised and driven from the building.

It is important to remember that, while there isn’t much they can do to you, it is indeed a myth that The Ghost can do you no harm whatsoever. As with any sinister supervisor, care must be taken or bad consequences could befall you. Some things to watch for include telekinesis. This is where The Ghost can manipulate inanimate objects and make a completed report disappear from your desk right before deadline, or knock coffee over onto that just-printed P&L.

The easiest way to keep The Ghost at bay is with bright light. Ghosts virtually disappear anytime the lights are turned up. If you make sure you avoid dark corners and those co-workers who love to tell secrets where no one else can see them then The Ghost can’t hurt you.

If all else fails though, simply put your foot down and step on the corner of the sheet draped over The Ghost. As they walk away, the sheet will stay in place and when exposed, they usually just disappear.

Next week: The Vampire

Business Playbook is written by Tim Timmons. Timmons’ book, Coaching Success: Creating Champions for the Business World is available at www.tim-timmons.com.

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