Trust but Verify
That was Ronald Reagan's slogan when dealing with people who used propaganda. We all may need to follow that slogan in today's world. In business, we need to trust but verify what others tell us. With remote workers, managers need new tools and skills to manage the work and employees.
The news that we most like hearing is the news we need to distrust and verify the most.
As human beings, we implicitly like to hear news that fits with our ideas of how things should be or news that makes us feel good. However, in today's world, there are many people who will do their best to tell us what we want to hear in order to manipulate us. Algorithms serve up items that fit what we have seen before. Even a TV commentator has admitted to saying anything he can to get people to watch. Employees will often say what the managers want to hear. With people insistently screaming untruths, it is best to distrust the news we like hearing the most.
Back in the 1890's, there was a newspaper rivalry between Hearst and Pulitzer. Both papers used popular comics and sensational journalism to win readers. They never let facts get in the way of a good story. They wanted readers and to push their political agendas. Their "stories" provided the political push for the Spanish American war. Journalism ethics and "objective journalism" was a result as people started to realize just how much damage had been done.
Today, we have many people listening only to one source of news. Truth cannot be found when listening only to one side. It is important to listen to multiple sides. "Free speech" is allowing people from all sides speak in order to find the truth.
In business, it is easy to accept the good news that we hear from employees. However, too often, the news is slanted to give the best impression. Managers have been known to say that things are going well when a project is really late. This is why third-party audits exist. Investors insist on audited financials because so many people have "slanted" the reports.
Managers have often used activity as the measure of an employee. It is easy to see someone toiling very hard on a project and think that they must be doing a good job. That doesn't work with remote employees.
With remote work, managers need new tools and skills to judge the competency of employees. Instead of just activity, managers need to learn to judge how hard the task is, and what the desired results really are. We need the skills to trust the employees, but verify that they are providing value to the company in their activity.
Trust but verify can be a powerful way to deal with the many unknowns we face and the inability to directly monitor people.
Trust but Verify.