Blog: What were you ordered for? by Maurice van Hoek


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Blog from the network by Maurice van Hoek 

Do you work on (temporary) assignments, on projects or on a permanent job? Then it is essential that you can answer the question: ‘What was I ordered for?’

An example: My son plays football. He is playing an exciting game. It is 1-1 with only five minutes to go. A player of ‘our’ team penetrates into the penalty area of the opponent. He wants to strike, kicks the ground and falls. Our chance is blown. But the referee sounds the whistle for a penalty. [1] We score. Astonishment everywhere: why was that a penalty? A little later a counter attack follows. The opponents penetrate our penalty area. A defender fouls the opponent, he falls. The referee whistles. Not for a penalty but to mark the end of the game …

The opponents are furious and my son’s team is embarrassed. I talk to the referee and he says: “If you get the chance, you have to help your club a little”.

The referee does not have a clear answer to the question why he was ordered. This seems strange, but it happens to all of us. Temptation and distraction continuously makes us lose sight of why we are there and pushes that question to the background. It is often not apparent to yourself, but very clear to those who are standing on the sidelines. It happens to all of us if we are in the same situation for long enough and start to lose track of why we are there.

You can avoid this pitfall of the referee by asking yourself: ‘What am I ordered for?’. You can get to this answer by asking yourself:

  1. What is the goal of this task / job? To what am I contributing?
  2. What is my result? What do I make or deliver?
  3. To whom do I deliver this result?

In case of the referee: “I maintain fixed rules of the game and treat both parties according to these rules.”

A clear answer is a guideline or compass for your actions. This helps you to consciously deal with various temptations and distractions.

In case of the referee it can, for example, be the trainer of our team who remarks that the team was disadvantaged by the referee in the previous game. Or a board member who jokes that the team could be champion. In our work, it is the colleague who asks if you can help him out or the supervisor who asks for something extra.

On moments like that, take out your compass. This gives you focus on why you are there and allows you to consciously deal with the temptations and distractions. In case of the referee: “This is not why I was ordered. I serve to ensure a fair game for both parties.” In our work, it could be: “I want to help you / I like this assignment, but this puts pressure on why I was ordered.”

It is the art of clarifying what you were ordered for at the start of your assignment, project or job and keeping this clear along the way, or consciously changing it as you go along. You can only do this if you can clearly, in one sentence, answer the question ”What I am ordered for?”.

[1] To be complete: In football the home team brings the referee.

Maurice van Hoek is a result-oriented puzzler and owner of Stepwise. Active for more than 20 years in the public domain as a (interim) manger, project leader and process facilitator. Focussed on the next step to the first concrete result.

Achieving results is like a puzzle. These blogs contains pieces of the puzzle he witnessed during 20 years of management. He continually asked himself: What works? And writes these blogs about this process. 

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Get in touch. He would love to write about it. 

More info? 

  • Check the original blog here
  • Curious about the other blogs? Find them here
  • Contact Maurice