Who's to Blame for Lack of Direction in the Workplace?

BY Kathy Crosett
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Is your team suddenly missing deadlines for delivering completed projects to key clients? Are your team members frequently late for work or taking every hour of sick time available to them? These behaviors could be symptoms of a larger problem – failure of leadership and lack of direction in the workplace.

Lack of Direction in the Workplace

By paying attention to your team members’ behavior, you can detect weaknesses in your leadership  strategy, writes Laura Buckler for leadchangegroup. Determining the source of the problem is only the beginning. You also need to take action to fix your strategy. Here are a few specific leadership problems, out of the ten items identified by Buckler, and suggestions for how to improve your team’s outcomes.

Clear Instructions

Your team is comprised of people with varying levels of experience and skill. To excel, each individual will require a certain amount of instruction and direction from you. If people have been coming up short on the reports you’ve been asking them to write, you can likely trace the issue to the level of direction you’ve provided. For example, a team member who’s worked with you for ten years and has significant writing experience in your company will know that a detailed outline should be included, along with a list of sources used to generate the report. Your instructions to that individual may be as brief as asking for a ten-​page report that is similar to the one written last quarter.

A newer team member will require more of your time. You can provide them with a copy of the report from last year to use as a guide, but they may still have trouble deciding how much detail from each source to use. They may need guidance on the tone and on the information they should include in the final copy.

Plan to spend more time one-​on-​one with new team members, encouraging the writing of several drafts for your review, before the final report is produced. You can improve your communication with these team members by adopting your style to the one that best meets their needs. Some employees prefer to work independently and produce a draft document for your review. Other employees might want to develop an outline first. Ask your employees to take a psychometric assessment. The results will help you tackle the lack of direction in the workplace. 

Follow Through

Some managers love to pontificate about the big changes they are making. Maybe you’ve instituted a new process for approving edits made to reports. Or, maybe you’ve added another level of review to white papers before they can be released. Change is great, but it can also be hard for some team members to process without clear direction. Your rock-​star employees may assimilate changes without missing a beat, but other folks may resist change because they feel threatened or confused. This kind of reaction to change can cause schedule slips and friction between your team members. As a manager, it’s your responsibility to follow through. After making an announcement about change, check in regularly for a few weeks or even months, to make sure everything is going smoothly. Ask if any unforeseen problems have cropped up and address them on the spot.

Paying attention to details when you give direction and make changes helps your team members stay on track. These strategies also show you’re a leader who’s willing to roll up their sleeves and focus on issues like a lack of direction in the workplace before they turn into unsurmountable problems.

Photo from Anna Shvets on Pexels.