Don’t tell me what to do

Posted by Bo Pedersen
on September 4, 2019

Give me a strong reason why.

Give me the ways and means to learn how.

But please don’t tell me what to do.

From Compliance to Commitment

Purpose led businesses create more value for stakeholders and grow faster. But the potential of purpose led businesses is often undermined by a failure to empower employees to take effective action.

Please show me why. In a purpose led organisation, employees gain a sense of meaning from being part of something bigger than themselves, helping to make the world a better place.

Help me learn how. Even if employees have a great reason to turn up every day, ever changing requirements mean that employees will need support to have access to the right tools and resources, and to learn the skills and behaviours to be successful in their roles.

But please, don’t tell me what to do. With a solid understanding of Why and How, employees should be enabled and encouraged to determine What to do independently. With the power to decide how to spend their time, employees are free to commit themselves to deliver their best work, rather than simply comply with commands from above.

OK, this makes sense. So how do I empower my teams and employees?

Instil purpose with a clear mission. Whether you want to accelerate the world’s transition to sustainable energy (Tesla) or inspire and develop the builders of tomorrow (Lego), a clear and compelling mission instills purpose into the contributions of everyone in the organisation.

Give everyone the tools to track and improve. Every business, team, and employee has a set of health indicators which they can monitor. Train everyone to know which health indicators to track. Provide access to the relevant information.

Focus and align everyone with transparent goals and objectives. Set clear goals and objectives for the organisation, and across every function. Enable teams to easily collaborate across functional and other boundaries.

Learning Culture. Set high expectations for learning and development, and invest generously in training, tools and resources for individual learning.

So far so good – now employees can be expected to:

  • understand the purpose and mission of the organisation,
  • continuously track and improve personal and team performance
  • set clear goals to align within and across teams and functions
  • have a personal learning plan

We are now well equipped for the final piece of the puzzle.

Empower everyone to take massive action. Armed with a clear purpose, in great health, with clear goals, and with a commitment to learn, everyone is now equipped to take massive action. They have a clear understanding of why and the means to figure out how to overcome any challenges. They will now commit themselves to what must be done.

Don’t tell me what to do.