If orders which are consistently effective are used in instructing the troops, they will be obedient.
So many times, company executives issue orders that aren’t implemented. Consequently, they and the company lose credibility with their workforces. This happens for many reasons, but here are a few:
- Many interpret more orders as more activity.
- Executives feel “in command” when giving orders.
- Orders can show that executives took action (even if there is little chance of implementation), thus allowing them to hold others accountable for failure or inaction.
- Executives can often feel compelled to do something.
- New orders usually aren’t prioritized with existing orders so employees ignore it or stop working on existing orders.
- There is an unrealistic assessment of what can be done, thus demoralizing employees and causing the executive and company to appear foolish.
Therefore, to rebuild or to prevent deterioration of credibility, keep the following in mind:
- Give one small, successful order rather than one grandiose, unsuccessful one.
- When rebuilding credibility, begin with smaller orders and after success work up to larger ones.
- Avoid, under all circumstances, giving orders that won’t be carried out or follow upped.
- Put context around the new order by prioritizing with outstanding ones.
- Emphasize implementation over idea; a good implemented idea is far better than an unimplemented excellent one.
- Focus on realistically determining what the team can tackle; inoculate yourself from machismo and Pollyannaism.
- Keep outstanding orders few so you can effectively follow up.
We don’t need employees thinking that this is “just another initiative.” Keep it focused, keep it successful.
Note: Versions of this quote usually appear in the 49th paragraph of the ninth chapter, “Marches”, of The Art of War.
- Top Seven Sun Tzu Quotes: #7 Effective Orders
- Top Seven Sun Tzu Quotes: #6 Seeking Victory
- Top Seven Sun Tzu Quotes: #5 Speed in Decision Making
- Top Seven Sun Tzu Quotes: #4 Change
- Top Seven Sun Tzu Quotes: #3 Positioning
- Top Seven Sun Tzu Quotes: #2 Integration, Holism
- Best Sun Tzu Quote: Pinnacle of Skill