Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Clinging to Procedures

Have you come upon someone who followed policies and procedures, whether mandatory or not, so strongly that they failed to listen?

I came across a blog by Kate Nasser called People Skills: Procedures Block Listening which I found insightful and wanted to share. Kate asserts that "When people cling to procedures, the procedures can block listening."

Consider our own procedures: the Standard Firefighter Orders and the 18 Watch Out Situations. Some contend they are guidelines; others contend they are steadfast rules. The debate alone can cause a confusion and block listening. However, strict adherence to any policy or procedure could result in an unwanted consequence. Having open communication and analyzing concerns and requests with an attitude of respect can have profound results.

Policies and procedures have their place but should not block our ability to listen.

1 comment:

Bob Lieberman said...

No question about it! In general I would say that focus on the task blocks creativity. Process-focus is kind of an extreme case.

In my leadership development practice, I teach people how to let go of the task so they can stay in touch with the rest of reality: what they feel, how the context has been changing while they were executing, and so on. Paradoxically, the more focussed one is on the task, the less connected one becomes with the needs the task is intended to meet. Just one of those things!

My shorthand for the full spectrum of connection with one's work is the word "creativity". And the ability of a leader to both be creative and inspire work teams to do so, I call "creative leadership". I'm happy to see you calling attention to the the parts of work that aren't completely task-oriented.