We live and work in a world of living, breathing people, full of emotion, multi-generational and each of us having varied life experiences. Scenarios might include a CEO 10 years your junior, arriving to work at 10am after their Crossfit workout. You are surrounded by workers with high emotional needs, many seeking to get them fulfilled at work. Or a sales manager in the wrong role and everyone knows it but won’t say it. Add to this, that few are clear where their roles start and stop.
Place the above circumstances in a culture that sees hierarchy and order as the archenemy and we have a recipe for great confusion with unknown outcomes and allegiances. I am not dissing organizational models that lean towards the flat, but am making a point that lack of hierarchy leads to confusion, which leads to uncertainty. And uncertainty is the road to nowhere.
One way to handle confusion in the chain of command is to simply ask; apply the principle of good communication, keeping things out in the open for all interested parties to see and act upon, if need be: “Is it best that I run with this, or do you want me to check in periodically?” In other words, do you want me to ask for your help or guidance, or am I free to take this and run with it? Even well developed, mature leaders change their minds on how/why they want things done in particular ways. Environmental changes, circumstances or even a bad day can cause your sales manager to have a need for more information than usual. There’s a maturity required to create order when it feels absent.
The other way, is to just run with things, and say, “I’m goin’. Stop me if and when necessary.” In this way, you’ve still created order, offered respect and instilled the certainty that, regardless of confusion, you are headed towards accomplishing the work mission at hand.