Monday, October 17, 2011

Psych: How Far on Honesty with Co-Workers?

by Ray Keating
Business Tips on TV #2

Just how far do you have to go in terms of being honest with co-workers?

That question crossed my mind while watching the return of USA Network’s Psych for a sixth season on October 12. Psych ranks as my personal favorite among USA’s winning line-up of television series. It’s provides reliable laughs, and is wonderfully offbeat and uplifting.

So, what about this honesty thing?

Keep in mind that the basis of this television show is that Shawn Spencer (played by James Roday) is a fake psychic, who runs a psychic detective agency with his best friend Burton “Gus” Guster (Dule Hill). They work for the Sacramento Police Department, with Detectives Juliet O’Hara (Maggie Lawson) and Carlton Lassiter (Timothy Omundson), Police Chief Karen Vick (Kirsten Nelson), and Shawn’s father, Henry Spencer (Corbin Bernsen).

Shawn uses his acute skills of observation to keep the police thinking that he is a valuable asset as a psychic. So, Shawn and Gus’s detective agency business is built on a lie. Amusing for television, but not a good idea in real world business, of course.

The particular question regarding honesty in this recent episode, however, deals with Juliet and Shawn keeping their dating relationship secret from Lassiter. Lassiter suspects, and is upset with Juliet, his partner. He tells O’Hara that “partners don’t lie or keep secrets from each other because we put our lives in each other’s hands.”

When Juliet finally fesses up, Lassiter declares, “We need to see the chief about getting me a new partner - one I can trust.”

But when they sit down with Chief Vick, and Juliet admits that she needs to come clean on something, the chief interrupts and asks, “Does it affect your ability to do your job right now?” After Juliet says no, Chief Vick says, “Then why do you think that I would want to know?”

Carlton believes that, as his partner, Juliet should have told him about her relationship with Shawn. In contrast, though, the chief differentiates between work and personal life. Specifically, from a work standpoint, she is only concerned about issues that might impact an individual’s ability to get the job done.

In the end, partners and managers have to draw clear lines as to what information truly matters in the workplace and what does not. That is, what’s relevant professionally, and what’s better left personal.

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Ray Keating is the author of “Chuck” vs. the Business World: Business Tips on TV (available at Amazon.com). He also is an economist, weekly newspaper columnist, and adjunct college business professor.

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