I am progressing through the second season of The Good Place, a Netflix comedy series about a lady named Eleanor who was surprised to make it to the Good Place, and upon arriving is determined to shed her old way of life in hopes of discovering a new one in the afterlife. Eleanor believes she shouldn’t be in the Good Place and so is determined to not give her secret away. On the other hand, there are three other main characters, one named Chidi, a Professor of ethics who knows that he belongs in the Good Place. Another is Tahani, who also knows that she belongs in the Good Place due to her hard work at aiming for perfection. The third is an EDM DJ from Florida named Jason who was cool with being there, yet really; just going along for the ride.
Despite the series’ theological heterodoxy, it is fascinating to think about how these characters portray characters similar to people one knows in real life. There are the Eleanors who don’t stop behaving badly until it affects their comfort. The Chidis, who are intelligent and do what’s right but can’t make decisions even when their life depends on it. The Jasons, who doesn’t really care what happens as long as they are enjoying themselves. The Tahanis, who appear to be smart, sweet, and generous, but are driven by a malignant desire to be the center of attention.
With the changes in the work environment arising from Covid-19, we either miss the ability to walk into someone’s office and see if they are working on something, or we don’t. What do I mean by this? You may be in the first category, in that you always checked on others, or you were in the second category and you never checked anyway. Alternatively, you may have been in a third category and someone had to ask if you went to check. There is also often a fourth category of people who did the work for themselves instead of checking or checked and the other person was not finished.
None of the above categories are wrong if coupled with the right motives, correct communication, and beneficial result.
With or without the virus, there are always moments where someone from your team is working remotely who normally or used to be a short walk away.
What must occur for the ultimate success of others?
Think of it this way. Even when you walk into someone’s office and ask them, “Are you working on RFI’s, scopes, design revisions, proposal, estimate, etc.”, how the two of you communicate either assures you that the work is being done correctly, or it doesn’t.
If we don’t have proof other than words, we often behave badly with emotions caused by the uncertainty. You may lash out on others, complain, worry, waste time with a back-up, or keep checking in with the person disrupting the ability to perform.
It’s okay to ask for proof from the worker, and if someone asks you for proof it may not be from a lack of trust. It may be for ease of emotion and to help the other person plan their or the team’s time properly.
To communicate for verification:
- Confirm they understand clearly what is expected. Diana Booher, Author and Communication coach’s article on 4 ways to verify if others really understand what your communicating gives some creative tips.
- Clearly communicate the timing and delivery of the request. Often someone will ask for an item to be completed by a specific day (e.g. Tuesday). One person may interpret that as 5 a.m. Tuesday morning and another 6 p.m. Tuesday night. Be specific.
- Request visual check-ins to reassure you. Some companies use technology such as Monday, Asana or Smartsheets to track progress, milestones, and even the amount of time someone has been working on something. The most effective way when someone is relying on you is to pick up the phone or send a daily recap, just letting them know everything is on track to meet their deadline and expectations.
- Communicate to the other person why their performance matters. Letting others know the importance of what they are doing helps ensure they have a sense of urgency with their work. Sharing with them why their work is important and what depends on it contributes to the big picture, allows you to build report towards the common goal, and open lines of communication.
- Clearly communicate if they are dropping the ball anywhere along the way. Most people want to please others and take pride in their work. When they don’t succeed in that, the sooner you correct them, the better take time to address problems and give examples.
Oftentimes people think they are in a good place only to find out they are in a bad place, or vice versa. The Good Place is most always achieved when each person takes time to understand the other and meet the others’ needs and expectations through proper communication. Rarely do we see bad behavior or deliberate non- performance from the either party when they have the assurance and the proof of coverage.
Ronald Reagan said of the Soviet Union during the Cold War,
“Trust but Verify”.
How do you verify?