Why Context Is Important
Imagine you walk into your supervisor's office and see a new plaque prominently displayed. The plaque reads: What Would My Replacement Do?
What is your first impression? What do you think a client's first impression will be?
A conference speaker charged attendees to consider what their replacements would do. When John* heard this challenge, he evaluated his responsibilities from a fresh perspective. His creativity sparked and he thought of four changes his successor might initiate. He was compelled to action.
This concept made such an impact on this vice president that he ordered a plaque for each of his managers. The next time they met, John sent his managers back to their respective facilities with instructions to place these plaques on their desks where they would be clearly visible.
John intended to inspire his managers and their teams to action. Managers reported mixed results. The phrase resonated with some employees, who identified with John's vision. Other team members viewed the challenge as an insult.
Unfortunately, employees and clients didn't have the background information that provided context for the plaque's meaning. Without proper context, John's plan to motivate fell at the mercy of each individual's perception.
Have any of your good-intentioned initiatives fallen victim to a lack of context?
*John is not his real name.