3 Ways to Avoid A Wrong Turn at Work

bigstock-finger-pointing-at-car-GPS-nav-37304524If there is a traffic sign indicating where you get on or off a highway, it’s important that you see it, and take action.  Otherwise, you risk making a wrong turn or getting lost.

In addition to regular traffic signs, drivers often encounter other types of signs.  For example, have you ever been surprised by a key route that has recently been designated one-way, or that there’s a temporary detour? In those instances, you have to follow the signs, adjust plans, and adapt to all of these new inputs to get to the destination.

Here’s the bad news about looking for signs in business. There usually aren’t any. Sure, you have market studies, and feasibility studies, and cost-benefit studies, and compliance studies, and studies of other studies, but very rarely do they clearly tell you when and where to turn.

In business, you are on your own most of the time.  And when you’re on the business road you’ve got to keep going—even when you are in uncertain territory. And sometimes you have to fix the bicycle while you’re riding on it.

But that doesn’t mean it’s impossible.  Here are three action items to help you reach your destination successfully.

  1. Make it clear to everybody on your team that it is part of their job to look for the clues that it is time to make a turn. And tell them that sometimes that turn isn’t even on the current agenda. You need gutsy people out there where the rubber meets the road. They’ve got to deal with reality.
  2. Make it safe for people to communicate with you. Very few trips come off exactly as planned.  But how many times have people followed along with a driver obviously going the wrong way until everyone’s completely lost, and then said, “I had a feeling we weren’t going in the right direction.”  There are always going to be glitches in the plan, and even times when the original plan should be downright scrapped.
  3. Do what you can to improve the signal-to-noise ratio. Protect people’s time. They can’t be nimble and ready for change if they are buried in bureaucratic distraction and static. They can’t do every last thing that somebody dreams up in a “perfect world.” There is no such thing as a perfect world. Don’t just keep adding to their to-do list; you need to add to their not-to-do list.

Seeing and reporting signs is challenging. Dealing with them successfully depends on having the information in the first place and the initiative to share it in the second place. This stuff isn’t easy. But it’s the stuff that business is made of.

About the author

Dr. Dick Ruhe is a best-selling author, keynote speaker, and senior consulting partner with The Ken Blanchard Companies. You can read his posts here on LeaderChat the fourth Saturday of each month.

13 thoughts on “3 Ways to Avoid A Wrong Turn at Work

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