There is nothing more frustrating to employees than being given vague direction on an assignment, only to be reprimanded later when they don’t deliver what their boss was actually looking for. This scenario costs organizations money, productivity and energy—and can cost leaders their credibility.
On the flip side, providing clear, comprehensive direction can enhance your effectiveness in delivering projects that contribute to your company’s long-term success.
Whether you manage a team, a department or a company, make sure your direction toemployees incorporates these key factors: time, thought and synergy.
Direction Takes Time
Until you have worked with someone for a while and you both are familiar with each other’s work styles, you will need to spend
extra time at the beginning of a project discussing each of the following areas:
» How you like assignments to be organized and delivered.
» The best way to communicate with you. Is that by phone, by email or in person?
» Your availability and willingness to talk through issues or answer questions.
The longer you work together, the less “set-up” time will be required.
Think It Through
Direction requires careful organization and planning of an assignment’s who, what, when, where and how. The critical piece that is frequently left out, however, is the “why.” Considering and even questioning all aspects of your project direction invites analysis, dialogue and understanding—and allows the best solutions to emerge. At the project’s outset, think through:
» Why does this task need to be accomplished? How will the deliverable be used?
» How does it fit into the organization’s big picture?
» What approach would best deliver the promised results? Factor in time, resources and financial constraints to determine your strategy.
» Who should be involved? Who will be impacted by the results, meaning that getting their input is important? Which team members have the time and expertise to accomplish the task?
» When must the assignment be completed? Even a day’s delay can cause a ripple effect on the schedule.
Synergy Creates Success
Synergy is defined as “a combined effort being greater than its parts.”
All too often, leaders will try to “go it alone” or call only on a small, insular group, in an attempt to keep tight control of project parameters and outcomes. The most successful projects, however, result from collaborative sharing of ideas and expertise. By giving direction that fosters and leverages these synergies, you as a leader are facilitating success.
Providing clear, comprehensive direction is one of a leader’s most important jobs. Taking adequate time, thinking things through and involving others at the outset of an assignment will result in a more efficient and effective process, more engaged employees, deeper cooperation and ultimately a better product.