To See or Not to See: Importance of Sensemaking in Employee Self-direction
Being self-directed is one of the most sought-after employee attributes. The present study examines managers’ approaches to and conceptualization of employee self-directedness through semi-structured interviews with 13 managers from five companies in the Stockholm area. Analysis suggests two different emphases in trying to increase self-direction, with differing underlying assumptions: an evaluation emphasis where self-direction is conceptualized as an inherent property of the individual, and a cultivation emphasis suggesting a more interactionist perspective of self- direction as an emergent behavior based on the interaction of individual and situational characteristics. Further, a ‘seeing work’-skill emerged in all interviews, implicating situational judgment and attention as core to what is ultimately seen as successful self-direction. Managers with a cultivation emphasis mentioned as viable tactics those focused on supporting sensemaking and thus enriching the working situation to enable better discretionary situational judgments
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