A good way to keep track of all the onboarding details that I wrote about yesterday is through a checklist. I’m a big fan of checklists as a way to remember things that occur over and over without expending any mental energy to do so. You just pull out the list and you’re on your way.

But checklists can also serve to do more than remind of us things. Thought leader Seth Godin wrote about how checklists are actually a way to express our carefulness and to put resilience into our systems. He cites the example of doctors writing their name on the limb that is to be operated on as a way of reducing the errors in surgery.

Checklists can also help others understand the complexity and myriad steps in a process. The National Association of Realtors presented to Congress a checklist of 184 steps that are completed with each real estate transaction as a way to illustrate the professional nature of its membership. The checklist can serve as a tool for both agents and buyers to reduce the details that may be forgotten during a sale.

You can also create checklists to record progress and see evidence that steps are being taken toward a goal. If you check off tasks or activities as they occur, a checklist can become a visual illustration that work is occurring toward a seemingly far off outcome and it can inspire persistence to continue the streak of checking things off.

Whether you use checklists to remember to pack the essentials for your next trip or rely on a checklist to drive your next project at work, the act of listing out the steps lessens the likelihood of any of the tasks being forgotten. If you think you’ll do something more than once – and that covers a vast majority of our work – it’s worth the extra time on the front end to create a checklist to minimize omissions on the back end.




I'm the chief connector at leadership dots where I serve as "the string" for individuals and organizations. Like stringing pearls together to make a necklace, "being the string" is an intentional way of thinking and behaving – making linkages between things that otherwise appear random or unconnected – whether that be supervising a staff, completing a dissertation or advancing a project in the workplace. I share daily leadership dots on my blog to provide examples of “the string” in action. I use the string philosophy through coaching, consulting and teaching to help others build capacity in themselves and their organizations. I craft analogies and metaphors that help people comprehend complex topics and understand their role in the system. My favorite work involves helping those new to supervision or newly promoted supervisors build confidence and learn the skills necessary to effectively lead their team.

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