Imagine this happening at an all-star football game: All of the best players converge, but no one shares the game plan. Even with extraordinary talent, what would transpire on the field would not be representative of the players' true talents.
This is also the case with your employees. If they don't know the game plan (or the score), they won't experience success.
Leadership coach Michelle Steffes feels your vision should be the fabric of the organization, interwoven through all that you do. Your goal should be for employees to engage in and feel ownership of the vision, even though the vision starts with the company owners and leaders of the team. You want employees to think, "Oh wow—I get to be a part of this!"
Creating a feeling of buy-in can come from soliciting employees' ideas when addressing challenges. "The team needs to 'see the score,'" Steffes said. "They need data to have a snapshot of what's happening in the organization. Involve everyone in solutions." Developing solutions that support the vision is a meaningful way to incorporate the vision into staff meetings, as opposed to, "Let's have a meeting about our company vision."
"Development of solutions should be interactive and collaborative," Steffes said.
One way Steffes recommends seeking input from team members to address a challenge is to divide into teams, have each team record as many ideas as possible on a poster board, and declare the team with the most ideas the winner. Brainstorming sessions like these work for several reasons: Everyone gets a say, it generates enthusiasm, and the leaders get lots of ideas to consider. Other ways to incorporate employees' ideas into meeting the vision include suggestion boxes, special initiatives, and group activities.
Six-month reviews can also be used to help employees stay focused on the vision. Asking employees to set goals based on the company vision, and revisiting their progress in their review keeps employees on track, and gives them a sense of ownership. "Change goals every six months," Steffes advises, "and celebrate your goals."
Surveys can also help to gauge "the general temperature." Steffes recommends using an outside source to conduct the survey, unless staff already feels a deep relationship with leadership. "Keep it short. Ask specific, targeted questions. Allow for ratings and open-ended responses." Even something as simple as asking staff for three things that are going well and three things to work on could help to provide solutions. Use the data from surveys in training for team leaders. Sometimes using an outside source is helpful for this step, too. "Pointed comments can be hard for business owners to hear. An outside source can present survey results in a palatable way and take the emotion out of it, providing content the leadership team can work with."
To be more than a slogan printed on a placard or a wall, a company's vision must be a part of every goal, every major decision, and every employee's understanding of what the company stands for.
Written by Jennifer Reynolds, West Michigan Woman magazine contributing writer, who developed this article with information presented by Michelle Steffes, a 25-year Leader, Certified Coach, Consultant, Trainer, and Speaker. Michelle is President of IPV Consulting. Learn more at http://ipvconsulting.com