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Perspective Lens

March 13, 2013

By Jeanine Izzo

Many times we hear that people are the key to organizational success, yet many times the behaviors do not seem to match the mantra.  Certainly, this is not purposeful.  It is driven by differing perspectives, expectations and information sets.  There are natural gaps between levels in the organization because each level has a different lens through which they view the company.

The wide range lens of senior management, allows them to see the vast horizon and plan for where the company is going.  Regardless of the company, they are focused on pleasing the stakeholders with sound financial planning/investments/returns/growth.  Their communication to the greater organization typically stays at an overarching level as they leave the details to the rest of the organization.  This plays out in a strategic direction that can, at times, be difficult for employees below that level to translate into what that means to them.  A little bit of reaching out and clarifying goes a long distance.

Front line employees use a zoom lens in order to stay focused on the task at hand.  Many times, at this level, the strategic direction is not known, considered unimportant, or really is unimportant to getting the job done.  Details are important at this stage.  Coordination is high.  Engagement is the difference between just getting the job done and maximizing potential.  There is huge potential for growth and new ideas from this level.  The frequency of self-initiated solutions and development begins to set the tone for individual and team advancement.

The mid-range lens has the ability to bridge the gap that exists between these two extremes.  The view from this perspective overlaps both of the other levels.  Typically, middle managers (department heads, functional managers, program/project managers, team/group leads, team members) are not too far removed from doing the detailed daily work to understand the needs of the front line.  At the same time, they are increasing their strategic knowledge through training and interaction with senior leaders.  Messages at this level come in from and out to all directions.  Setting appropriate priorities and time management can be a challenge.  The sheer volume of information that comes to and through this level is daunting.  As the volume of stimuli increases, the level of reaction increases along with it.  Although, proactive planning can be elusive, a little bit goes a long way.

Just as a photographer has a go-to lens, a lens that feels more natural, a lens that works best for their preferred style (landscape, wildlife, portraits), it is vital, at times, to put on another lens.  This helps get a different perspective of what others are seeing/experiencing.  It highlights different information which can lead to more impactful solutions and results.  In the corporate context, this leads to better understanding through clearer communication, enhanced listening, and appropriate support.

Of course, it takes time and forethought to look at different perspectives.  As the bombardment of daily messages continues to increase, it may seem counter-productive to take the time to put on a different lens let alone talk with someone that uses it on a daily basis.  Yet, it will actually save time overall.  Understanding the differences in the lenses (levels of the organization) can guide attitudes, thoughts and behaviors in a more productive way.  Communication can become more targeted for the intended audience.  Expectations will be more clear.  Stress/tension will decrease and motivation and productivity will begin to trend upward.

Tips for changing perspective:

1.    Take a counter-intuitive step back to assess the situation

2.    Consciously think, what might be going on above me?  Next to me?  Below me?

3.    Seek data from others to confirm your thoughts/observations

4.    Think about ways you can contribute to the solution

5.    Take action to help solve problems and create opportunities

How has looking at different perspectives led to more effective solutions?

© Viage Partners 2013. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Viage Partners with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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