In a fast-paced, market-driven organization, planning tends to be a bothersome task. If a written plan does exist, it was probably pieced together at a recent management retreat and is gathering dust on a shelf alongside plans from previous years. One by one, each well-intentioned strategy died a quiet death, drowned in a sea of unforeseen events.
One way to determine how well the direction of a company is understood by those who do the work is to bring in an outside facilitator to meet with employees in small groups. This process can reveal how followers feel about the direction their leaders are going.
It is from such gatherings that the subject of direction setting can be discussed. The facilitator will ask a series of probing questions, which the respondents answer by raising their hands or speaking out.
Here is one example, “How many of you do not need a boss to tell you how to do your job?” The majority of hands go up.
This is quickly followed by: “How many did not raise your hand because you were afraid your boss would find out?” Additional hands are raised.
Next question, “Based on the large showing of hands, it is obvious that you do not need a boss. Is that correct?” A resounding “No!” quickly follows.
Finally query: “Well, if you know what to do without being told, then why do you need a boss? Their response comes quickly and loudly, “To give us direction.”
So, what happens if your boss fails to provide direction? Like your Doer counterparts, you yourself must continue to move ahead and keep pace with the prevailing winds of change. To keep your crew on course, you must show them how to respond faster, reduce costs, improve efficiency, and adjust to change. If those charged with planning and directing your organization are not providing direction, then it may be up to you and others at your level to find a way to get ahead on your own.
Doers are continuously frustrated by the lack of direction from leaders who do not look to the future, focusing instead on immediate results and quick fixes. If that sounds familiar, stay tuned, this chapter will provide some welcome relief and some helpful suggestions.