Now you see profits, now you don't.
An illusionist is simply an individual, entity or thing, that appears to be one thing while actually be something else entirely. In the dating world they're known at catfishes. In the financial world they're fraudsters or scammers but they wreak the most havoc in a corporate setting...
Not all illusions are bad. We will often wear a happier face than we really feel, or even alter reality to others to prevent them from feeling our pain. Someone becomes an 'illusionist' when they predominantly use illusions to pump up their own image while also working to undermine the image of others.
In a business they are someone who is either not interested in doing their job long term, or aren't trained to do so. They will often receive multiple raises and praise, as the actual hard workers are thrown under the bus, condemned for their 'attitude,' then left unsupported to physically fall apart and burn out completely- To the playful sighs of the illusionist.
Illusionists also recognize each other and will seek comradery and defense of each other while working to divide everyone else, even make them afraid of doing acts of kindness.
Many corporations have had highly trained, experienced and hard working staff come and go but were befuddled by their 'attitude' etc. to the point where the corporation began to doubt the need of 'hard workers like them.' See an illusionist makes others truly believe that the harder workers are the problem.
(NOTE: Here's a quick management tip. Note who actually does the most work in your company and find out what they feel they need to better produce. Consider balancing their work load a little among other less productive staff etc. If you go along with the 'smoke and mirrors' and only add to the litany of attacks that hard worker will be subject to, then you've been had. And yes, expect your best workers to be under constant attack as we'll get into.)
Since the illusionists survival is no longer based upon how well they do the job they were hired for, they then commit much of their time to:
Devise Illusions to increase their apparent value.
Routinely boast of even casual actions they do.
Will casually include unnecessary details of struggle to nearly any action they manage to complete.
Make their superiors feel wanted by asking completely irrelevant questions to the workload of the day.
Will routinely take credit for others work or ideas below them. Will rarely ever give others due credit. When asked will say "I never claimed that was my idea."
Will "step up" to work on "advanced" areas as the basics are left neglected. (As an example, anyone in charge of training should not be working on "advanced" areas until, at least, sufficient training materials exist for the staff. Managements #1 priority is sufficient training of all personnel. If they are also a manager... )
The key point here is that they will focus on actions that are more likely to 'wow management' while their team is left desecrated.
This part alone creates the illusion that the staff are doing "fine" and they alone are leading the pack to victory. When the truth is that the only personnel that's actually planning to stay is the new arrival, with a majority of lead staff weeks from leaving.
Every time a staff member leaves they will fight to make it about that persons 'attitude' etc. There will be no real valuation as to the work output of that individual and what actually lead to loosing them. The illusionist will simply sigh, shake their head and claim that "if only the other staff stepped up like they did." When the truth is that a majority of the frustration will generally stem from failed training, unfair workloads, unorganized workflow, nonexistent workflow sops etc.
Attack the character of others - The illusionist simply can't afford for the hard workers to be recognized
Any mistakes hard workers make will be constantly talked about, usually in a more humorous than clearly nefarious way.
Attack the hard workers belief in themselves by being quick to talk down to them. Even calling them 'slackers' for being 2 minutes late, or making up derogatory nick names for them. For example, in the oncology world, referring to a Doctor as "an angel of death" is clearly designed to make that doctor reconsider their career path.
It is vital to the illusionist that they are never seen as the correct source for team disharmony and lack of efficiency. They will work hard to make the actual workers doubt themselves, become afraid to speak up, made to believe that others are judging them etc.
Divide the team- The illusionist can't afford to have an environment of transparency
This is actually likely to be literal. They will actively get in the way of everyone meeting together to keep people separated.
They will tell group one that group two is unhappy with them and then turn around and tell group two that group one is unhappy with them. Creating an "us vs them" environment in which only the illusionist is "drama free."
They will push been the smallest of whispers of annoyance between the sides while compliments from one side to the other are rarely forwarded.
Sabotage recruitment - An illusionist can't afford to hire quality staff
When they are in charge of recruitment, the quality of those recruits will suffer while they gloat about the record number of hires they alone achieved. Management may even me impressed with "how quickly they hired people" ... who can't work and put even more strain on the actual workers, pushing those quality staff closer to walking or getting injured on the job. These new staff will NOT receive any effective training as the illusionist can't afford for people around them to actually be competent, it would break the illusion of "how valuable they are."
Sabotage Training - An illusionist can't afford others under them to be actually trained
Every position should have print outs, cell phone recorded videos of each main task and a check sheet to sign off on each step - WHEN THEY FEEL ABLE TO DO THAT ON THIER OWN. These wont exist with an illusionist. It's better for them to briefly tell people what to do, then eye roll up to management how much those under them are struggling. Boy does that make them look better! (While the lack of training of the staff will also place more of the workload on the shoulders of the few hard workers that are actually there to do their jobs)
They will actually GO BACKWARDS by removing flow carts, training materials, SOPs etc in the aim of sowing confusion, burnout etc. all to make themselves look more impressive as everyone else silently suffers.
Inspire higher ups to not work.
When it comes to the hard workers, the illusionist will work to give them more work in the hopes of making them leave.
When it comes to superiors the illusionist will pretend to care "about their best interests" and push them to delegate, that work ends up on their hardest workers shoulders. Unless that action is considered entertaining. (See #1)
Propose "solutions" that sound reasonable but hurt the staff.
This is an odd one. But an example would be citing security, unwritten protocol, safety etc as to why a hard workers needs to be left alone, without support. Causing an already overworked valuable member, lead staff member/tech/etc. to plan leaving in weeks.
If you're not certain if a "solution" is meant to help or get in the way, check out our crash course in management to both train them, and judge the virtue of their actions.
The list goes on but this page isn't intended to be an exhaustive resource of all of their actions.
With even just a few of those items, they become really easy for everyone but management to spot. Yet they still may feel requests from management for 'them to do their jobs' as actual duress. While causing true duress and hardship directly through their refusal to train the staff.
It's also important to remember that stress is relative. So while it may be easy to roll your eyes at weak staff members who stress out and get much done, don't forget the reason will always be lack of proper training.
How much training is needed? Based on the quality of it it's like asking, "How much training does a boxer need before he gets into the ring?" That's training. It doesn't have to be super time intensive, but it should be a strong combination of theory and practical, bits of mentorship and greeting every 'mistake' with more training.
So what do we do with them?
Find out HERE>