Thursday, May 3, 2012

Following Directions

Do you find yourself frequently misinterpreting or even questioning directions on the job?   Following directions at work is important in helping you to be successful in your career.  If following directions is an issue for you, it is time to step back and take a good look at what’s going on.

Identify the Cause
Congratulations, you’ve conquered step one—recognizing there is a problem.  Next you need to identify what might be causing you to misinterpret, question, or even outright ignore the direction of those in authority.  

A common culprit can be miscommunication; you may be misinterpreting verbal or written directions from management. Be sure you are listening to directions carefully, then restate the directions in your own words and clarify anything you do not understand.  Another idea: if directions are verbally communicated, follow up by reiterating them in writing.  This is particularly helpful if directions are unclear, ambiguous, or complicated. Avoid impromptu hallway discussions about detailed tasks and directions; instead, request a meeting so you can come prepared or request directions in writing.  

Challenging Direction 
If you’ve decided miscommunication isn’t the issue, ask yourself if you are challenging direction because you disagree with the approachMost employers welcome employees who use their knowledge and expertise to develop solutions and ideas, but be sure to present these in a professional manner.  If management disagrees with your approach and instructs you to implement the original directions, do so respectfully unless extreme circumstances will compromise you or the company legally or ethically.   If your inability to follow directions stems from a lack of respect for your direct manager, explore opportunities to move to another group within the organization.  If the issue is a lack of respect for company leadership, you may need to find a different employer altogether. 

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