THE BLOG
05/06/2014 04:18 pm ET Updated Jul 06, 2014

The Future of Work Is About Clarity and Leaders Who Don't Buy-into Nonsense

I have been fascinated by how people in large organizations describe what they do. What do you say when people ask you what is that you do? And how would it feel when you no longer had that company wrapper to answer that terrifying question of "what is it that you do"? Do you see a clear connection between your work and the company's purpose?

I had a meeting with someone recently who introduced himself as "I support Carolyn" as though I was supposed to 1) know what Carolyn worked on and 2) realize how important he is through his affiliation. At no point, did he talk about the big picture or the shared purpose of the organization. I had to ask a lot of questions to get to the heart of his work and how it links to their ultimate business goals.

Was it his fault? Absolutely not.

While many organizations have vision and mission statements, most employees can't translate them to their own work. They focus on their "job" and then we are surprised when they are resisting a change. They may know the content that is on the PowerPoint slide, Intranet or Poster but don't have a clear line of sight as to what that means to them and what they need to do with this information. The organization may have many change plans in place but what is missing is a clear definition of where we are headed and why they should care.

And employees are tired of the "one size fits all" communication that is spreading like a disease across organizations. Most people have good intent and want to bring value to their work and the organization. But processes has gotten in the way of common sense. Do we really need to have more champions and sponsors or clear communication on what we want people to focus on? Leaders are too busy capturing success stories and not spending enough time having conversations and connecting with their people ... at all levels of the organization. When was the last time leaders actually had conversations and listened?

At the core of any change is having a common frame of reference so people understand where they are expected to evolve to. Despite the multitude of slides, there is no clear articulation of where organizations are headed for employees to truly buy-in and see what role they need to play in getting there. At what point, do we need to get back to common sense when it comes to business? Humans are over complicating work and many too easily blame technology and are numbing themselves with being busy. There is a crisis in leadership where we have so many order takers running around executing tasks and reporting meaningless metrics.

Having a leader that gets it and who can challenge the status quo helps move the organization forward. And when this leader knows how to integrate the right technology tools into their work and purpose, they work out loud and connect with the right people who need to understand how to change. These leaders don't need any more old world ambassador programs; just clear two-way communication and an implementation plan around achieving the future state so employees know what they need to do.

The future of business is about getting back to basics, conversations and an ability to not only dream big about the future but get people to make that dream a reality.