Give Followers a Context
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"Make yourself comfortable when you plan to give visitors a tour of the building." Does this directive from a boss mean jeans and a T-shirt or halter top, or does it mean walking shoes rather than high heels and lightweight fabrics rather than wools?
A manager asked his assistant to find the middle initial of a former chairman of the board. After searching online files to find the appropriate annual report without success, she spent two hours to retrieve files from their offsite storage location and finally located the retired official's middle initial.
Upon her return, feeling rather proud of her resourcefulness, she announced her discovery to the boss--only to find out his intended use was a gag birthday card for the retiree, whom he planned to play golf with on the weekend.
Whenever you're giving employees instructions to do a task, also give them the goal and context of the task so they can make intelligent decisions along the way concerning things you can't anticipate.