Marylou called this morning with another people puzzler for us to decipher. Here is how she described it.
Marylou, Peter, and Sarah share an administrative assistant, Jocelynne. The threesome had gone through a couple of assistants who just didn’t cut it. Neither of them was thorough, efficient, or organized.
Jocelynne came on board about three months ago. Marylou, Peter, and Sarah are all delighted with Jocelynne for being what the other assistants weren’t: thorough, efficient, organized, and hardworking, to boot.
Marylou, though, began to feel a bit uneasy. There was something about Jocelynne that didn’t work for Marylou. So, Marylou bounced her thinking off of Peter and Sarah to see what they thought.
As Marylou stated: “We’re not sure what she’s working on. Jocelynne happily takes on new projects, but she works so quietly we’re not sure what she’s doing.”
“We really wish she would keep us better informed.”
Here’s what is going on with Jocelynne.
Jocelynne is used to taking on a project, focusing on that project, and delivering the results when she is finished. She knows what her bosses want, and she knows how to do that. She sees no need to discuss the projects or give status reports—that takes away from her time on the project.
However, Marylou, Peter, and Sarah are operating in a void. And when our brains lack information, our brains make it up. Without progress reports from Jocelynne, the brains of Marylou, Peter, and Sarah are each making up their own stories about what Jocelynne is or isn’t doing. Pure fabrication.
The solution is for Marylou, Peter, and Sarah to set expectations for Jocelynne to report back to them on the status of their projects. It can be via email or a one-on-one meeting. It can be once a week or daily. Whatever works for each of the threesome.
Jocelynne needs to understand that while she knows what she is doing, the others don’t. They don’t want to micromanage her, but they do want to be informed.
With just a little communication, all four can work together more successfully and with more assurance that work is getting done.
Remember: When the brain lacks information, it makes something up—and that something is bad 90+% of the time.
The antidote: Communicate!
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