One of the biggest obstacles to productivity is a lack of clear directions. I once worked for a guy who often asked me to write an article that he didn't have time to write. He would give me scant direction upfront as to what he wanted the article to specifically include. When I would send him the written piece, he would completely reorgnize the elements and note areas that he wanted to see included. I would have to go back to the drawing board, change the things he'd asked and add elements he wanted. It was always a very frustrating experience that was totally inefficient. He would have used up less of his valuable time if he'd written the piece himself to start with, or if he'd provided clear instructions going in as to what he wanted the finished product to look like.
I ran across a good whiteboard video the other day that talks about how the lack of clear direction can handicap and sometimes derail a project. Called Set SMART goals, the presentation is delivered by Edward Muzio, DEP of Group Harmonics and in it he talks about how to set goals for the people you work with. Check it out here. (If you're using IE, you can view the video by clicking here.)
Toni Bowers is the former Managing Editor of TechRepublic and is the award-winning blogger of the Career Management blog. She has edited newsletters, books, and web sites pertaining to software, IT career, and IT management issues.