We all know of those all-hands sessions where senior management announces the big, corporate goals that will determine the next few months and years. For some, it's energizing to hear about the great vision the organization has set for itself. Everyone should feel like they are contributing to the success of the business, and some personalities – notably Intuitives – get a real buzz when they feel part of something big.
To others, the big goals can seem unattainable or far away. Sensors, in particular, sweat the small stuff. These personalities lean toward the "business as usual" approach and really struggle if they're asked to endorse a much bigger goal when it seems so out of reach.
Neither style is good or bad, right or wrong. But there are times when you'll need your Sensing employees to let up from daily operations and focus on the bigger picture. Here are five strategies to help you get the commitment and enthusiasm your larger goals deserve.
#1: Involve Sensors in the Goal-Setting Process
Wherever possible, involve your Sensors in the goal-setting process right from the start. Sensors will often tolerate the directives of leadership, but ultimately they will draw their own conclusions about what needs to be done in the present moment. Involving them in the goal-setting process helps them to place the big picture within the realm of their own experience.
Obviously, your Sensors will not be allowed to participate in strategy development with your leadership colleagues. But that does not mean you should keep them at a distance. If management has formulated a series of overarching goals, then take those goals to your team. Ask them, "What can we do as a team to make this goal a reality?"
For instance, suppose your company has decided to become a thought leader in the field of project management. What could your team do to help drive that goal? Open the conversation for suggestions and pay special attention to your Sensors. From defining your niche to giving speeches at important events to writing articles for leading industry publications, your Sensors may find ways to mesh the seemingly unassailable goal with their daily work routines. By gaining an understanding of the bigger picture through the lens of practical activities, it will encourage them to give the best.
#2: Explain the "Why"
Sensors are extremely skilled at grasping the "what" and the "how" but they don't always immediately reach for the "why." They might say things like "just tell me what to do," or "is there a precedent for that?" without thinking about the reasons behind your request. It's this focus on the "doing" rather than the strategizing that makes it difficult for them to see the big picture in the first place.
To change this focus, you're going to have to sell the company's goals using the Sensor's own language. Essentially, that means translating the concept into practical working solutions. What factors led to the definition of this goal? What impact will it have on your team and organization? How will it affect the Sensor's daily routine. How, specifically, can the Sensor help in the achievement of the goal? Map out the situation from macro (fanciful) to micro (concrete) so your Sensors can make sense of it all.
#3: Take a Field Trip
Sometimes, the best way to understand the bigger picture is to see all the component parts in action, right in front of you. You can explain the strategy all you want, but until your Sensors see how it's playing out in reality, it can be hard for them to fit their work into the larger context.
There's real power in taking a field trip to another department and seeing what their challenges are and what they're doing to achieve the company's goals. Seeing how the rest of the business is thinking and operating takes the Sensor out of his own everyday experience, which is really important when you're struggling to see beyond the here and now. It also gives him a bird's-eye-view of the organization, so he can see how each team's activities connects to the larger picture of the organization's goals.
To a Sensor, this exercise is a bit like putting together a 1,000-piece jigsaw puzzle. The overall picture may be a thing of beauty but it's hard to achieve the picture on the box when you're stuck in your everyday job role which comprises just a single puzzle piece. But if you show your Sensors the next piece, and the next, and demonstrate how those pieces fit together, they will be able to take their understanding to a more conceptual level. Gradually, they will then start to connect the dots by themselves.
#4: Lead By Example
Sensors, and especially Judging Sensors, are quite trusting of hierarchy and authority. Therefore, getting all the decision makers oriented in the same direction is an important first step. Your employees are intelligent – if management is not convinced of the strategy, goals and milestones, how should your Sensors be? They will recognize your false enthusiasm and begin to question the goals themselves.
Sensors, perhaps more than any other type, need to believe that their team leaders are truly involved and committed to the goals you are setting. So, take care not to reduce them to just another compulsory item on the to-do list. Show enthusiasm for the big picture, keep reminding everyone what you're working towards, and your team will be much more likely to follow your example.
#5: Make Progress Visible, and Not just the Finish Line
Too often, the big-picture overview looks like this: the senior team declares the strategy, team leaders translate it to financial and performance objectives – then everything is dropped like a hot potato until year end when it's time to check whether the team has lived up to expectations.
For Sensors, this is all too future-oriented and abstract. Big-picture goals, out of mind, disappear if you do not regularly remind your Sensors of their existence. It's critical that you keep your team up to date on progress, by following it and reporting your feedback on a regular basis. And celebrate along the way, of course, when key milestones are achieved. This turns an abstract concept into a tangible reality, so that everyone is aware of where you are compared to the goal.
Your team needs to connect with the bigger picture and be committed to the wider corporate goals with conviction. But it can be difficult to convey these goals to Sensors who do not get excited by the broad brush and avoid anything they perceive as woolly.
Fortunately, there are strategies you can implement to connect your Sensing employees with the bigger picture. Involving Sensors in the goal-setting process, speaking a language that your Sensors will understand, taking the holistic view, showing enthusiasm and reinforcing the goals regularly will help your Sensors hone their "vision" skills and develop a big picture focus.