How Following Directions Translates to the Bottom Line For Management

In business, following directions is very important. When directions are followed correctly, there is an implied understanding that the person was engaged in actively listening or reading and the end results are successfully achieved meaning on time and budget. However, if directions are not followed this may cause significant problems for management.Effective decision making requires higher order thinking skills that are vanishing in the business world as rapidly as the Dodo bird. The consequences of this situation is higher costs because of re-do’s, more stress within the organizational culture causing health costs to increase and productivity to decrease.Here are four examples of not following directions that I have observed during the last couple of weeks:The first example was an email I sent to my U.S. elected representative asking him for a simple yes or no response. He did return the email, but did not follow my directions and wrote several paragraphs without answering the question.

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Example number two was in the social media site, LinkedIn. A discussion was started with the directions to “list one word” regarding the primary expectation or quality of a leader. Yet many of those responding could not follow this simple direction. For those who used more than one word, some had to write an entire paragraph explaining their choice or further elaborating on someone else’s word choice.A visit to one of the full service local grocery stores revealed that employees do not follow directions in their employees’ handbooks or within the union contract. Handbooks and contracts are really direction documents indicating what you need to do or not do as you perform your work-related tasks. In this case, the direction was “Do not chew gum.”The fourth example involved not following up on sales leads. Sales research suggests that almost 50% of all leads are left to whither on the vine. Through my experience as a sales manager and with my sales coaching and small business training coaching clients to my speaking engagements, I can confirm this statistic and it really probably much higher. Many sales professionals be them inside or outside receive leads, are asked to follow up (direction) and then either do not or make one small effort and then go find another lead.When analyzing each of these examples, there are two major obstacles beyond the critical thinking skills. The first obstacle is one of values or what some call ethics. In all cases, the value of respect was being ignored or diminished.

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Obstacle number two was the inability to change. Alan Deutschman in his book Change or Die revealed that only one out of ten people would change even when confronted with facts, fear or force. Conditioned behavior is very strong in all individuals. It is much easier to do what I as the individual have always done such as not follow directions than to follow directions.By not following directions, the behaviors negatively affected the bottom line because a lot more time was spent on not doing it right. If management wishes to grow the business, everyone may need to assess how well the organization is following directions because this is a very real problem and can be directly tied to behaviors. Remember behaviors or actions create results. To change results begins by looking at the beliefs (foundational thoughts and experiences) because they drive the actions.