Which is more important: To perform the right work or to perform the work before us in the right way?
In one sense the question is almost silly. Of course it’s important to do both: to know the right work and to do it in the right way. But too often organizations focus entirely on people performing their work the right way without paying any attention to whether or not they are doing the right work. This can be seen in the myriad productivity improvement efforts encouraging people to do more, to work smarter, to be more efficient, and so on.
While those efforts are important, they must come second. First, organizations must ensure their people fully understand their roles and how each role contributes to organizational success.
According to a poll conducted by William Schiemann, only 14 percent of employees “have a good understanding of their company’s strategy and direction.” But if people don’t understand where the company is going, how can they be expected to contribute to the process of getting there?
Our consulting work has demonstrated to us over and over again that a significant gap exists between how top performers understand their role and how average performers understand their role. It turns out that average performers are often working just as hard as top performers. They are trying hard, they care, and they put in the long hours. But they just don’t seem to get the same results. Our experience is that these workers are effectively working at a wrong role. They are not doing the right work. So it doesn’t matter if they are doing the work right or not.
Questions to consider:
- How do you ensure that each member of the team understands his or her role?
- What methods do you use to communicate the strategy and direction of the company?