You believe in the company you work for and the service it provides to the community. You've bought into the idea of a better future. You believe that your team has the power to achieve their goals and push the business forward into the future. Unfortunately, you're not entirely sure if your employees know what the larger plan is for the business and what part they play in making it a reality.
How do you ensure that your employees are on the same page and working to make the organization a success?
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A vision or vision statement is set in the future and describes the world as it will be when a company lives out its mission.
Without a vision, a company is just going through the motions, taking care of daily activities with no goals or dreams in sight. The business and its employees may fall off track, distracted by "shiny object" syndrome and unable to function. It may become difficult to make decisions without a clear end in mind.
When a company has a strong, clear vision and the employees are aware of that vision, it inspires action and helps employees stay focused and work together no matter what challenges they face. The vision becomes the North Star that guides the company forward.
Sure, you can survive without a company vision, but your employees will be coming to work for a paycheck rather than a greater purpose. Their satisfaction will be low, their engagement as minimal as possible, and their happiness won't come until the moment they step out of the building at the end of the day.
Employees that see, understand, and buy into the company's vision will enjoy their jobs more, perform better, and truly drive the company's success.
But where does mission fit into this?
The company mission defines how the company is going to reach its vision. Think of it like the GPS that guides the company along the journey. When employees understand the history and the "why" of the organization and have a clear concept of the mission, they will be better enabled to do their jobs and to understand the role they play in the company as a whole.
While the company's vision statement may be prominently displayed on the lobby wall or front and center on the company website, if it isn't an ingrained part of the culture, it will be regularly overlooked.
Now, if you work at a non-profit where employees get to save the world, one child, tree, or homeless person at a time, it won't be difficult for them to see the vision and become a part of it. However, when you work for a for-profit company, it becomes slightly more difficult (though not impossible) to implement your mission and vision.
Implementing your mission and vision in the workplace begins with effective hiring. If you bring in a new employee whose values don't match that of the organization, there's no amount of cheerleading that can get them on board. Rather than looking solely for employees that have the skills or experience to fill a role, also consider hiring for personality, values, and culture fit. You can always train someone on how to do a job. You can't, however, change who they are as a person.
Once employees are situated within the company, a great deal of responsibility falls on you as their immediate supervisor to be a living example of the values and mission in action. Employees will be inspired by your actions and your attitude and will likely follow suit.
Wouldn't it be amazing if your employees were eager to come to work early, happy to stay late, and excited to work together towards a greater good? When employees are excited about your business vision, they will go above and beyond to make that vision a reality.
It may seem obvious, but if you haven't shared your vision with the employees and they don't know what their ultimate goal is... you can't expect them to be working tirelessly toward it. While your vision and mission may be hanging up for all to see, you'll still need to ensure that it's a topic of conversation with new hires. When you onboard a new employee, their first lesson should be what the company does, why, and where the organization is headed. This should happen before you ever get into the details of their specific job role. Once you've discussed both, then you can tie these together so they understand how they fit into the grand scheme of things.
For existing employees, and as a reminder to everyone, the vision and mission should be read at every meeting and opened to discussion about how the organization is meeting or missing the mark.
As a manager or leader, you may feel that your voice should be heard more than those of your employees. However, if they aren't talking to you... they are probably talking to someone else. That could be fellow employees or even customers. That's not a conversation that should ever happen.
Check in with your employees regularly and give them ample opportunities to voice their concerns. Of course, you'll also have to create a safe space for them to do so. If employees are chastised for speaking up, or if news of your conversation reaches others in the organization, they may never come to you again. Whether you agree with what they have to say or not, hear them out.
You may be listening to your employees when they speak, but they might not feel comfortable doing so. If they aren't voicing their opinions in meetings or coming to discuss ideas with you one-on-one, you'll need to pay attention to their body language and their behaviors.
When you're leading a meeting or conversation, you are often more focused on your own words than the way the audience is reacting to them. When you see that employees are no longer paying attention and becoming less engaged, it may be time to switch gears.
When employees clearly see the relation between their specific job responsibility and attainment of an organization-wide mission, they'll be more likely to exhibit the desired attitudes and behaviors.
Like everything else in life, employees will respond better to positive reinforcement, being rewarded for a job well done and a mission well carried out than they will to being punished. This can be done with monetary rewards, gift certificates, time off, or any number of "bonuses" that communicate your satisfaction with their performance.
When your organization has a clear vision and mission, and the employees are excited to be a part of it and contribute to the whole, your business will be more successful and your employees will be more engaged, happy, and loyal. If you are clear on what you want to achieve and communicate that well with your staff, buy-in will happen naturally.