To See or Not to See: Importance of Sensemaking in Employee Self-direction

Keywords: Learning & Competencies, Innovation & Productivity, Organization & Management


Being self-directed is one of the most sought-after employee attributes. The present study ex- amines 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 as- sumptions: 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 character- istics. 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 enrich- ing the working situation to enable better discretionary situational judgments

Author Biography

Gisela Bäcklander, KTH Royal Institute of Technology


PhD candidate, Industrial Economics and Management. E-mail:

How to Cite
Bäcklander, G. (2019). To See or Not to See: Importance of Sensemaking in Employee Self-direction. Nordic Journal of Working Life Studies, 9(2).