Organisations fall somewhere on the spectrum between bureaucratic and entrepreneurial.
The bureaucratic end of the spectrum is characterised by control, compliance and dependence. Dependence on the boss to come up with the right plan at the right time. In the bureaucracy we do as we are told. In the bureaucracy advancement comes from compliance and avoiding failure.
The entrepreneurial end is characterised by influence, innovation and autonomy. Relationships are used to broker agreements about what the priorities are rather than waiting for top brass to decide. Decision making is a much more even split between the front-line and management. It is real-time rather than locked into a plan. Advancement comes from understanding context and making the right calls for the business – not from playing it safe.
For me, 121s are all about shifting towards a more entrepreneurial organisational culture. Where everyone is forced to think every week – “what are the priorities?”, “how do I feel about them” and “what support do I need to deliver on the things that really matter for the business”.
These are great questions to help people to stay in touch with what they are all about – and how that fits with the organisation and its mission. And employees who are in touch with these things are likely to bring passion, creativity, energy and commitment to the workplace.