I was meeting with a prospective client a few weeks ago to discuss how communications might help them address their employee engagement challenges. The client felt that they were vulnerable to defection to their competitors, and wanted to find a way to retain those “at risk” employees.
The talk turned, as it usually does, to how much information the company shared with their workforce, what type of information is shared, and how effective the communications are perceived to be. The manager’s response: “I don’t think our employees even know what the vision is, even though we tell them all the time.” Hmmm.
A quick check of the company’s public Web site showed why: “Our vision is to become the leading provider of __ services in the global market.”
This vision statement, while undoubtedly forward-looking, is a great example of the “Mad Libs” approach to creating a vision.
Go ahead, fill in the blank with any type of service and you’ll see what I mean. No wonder the employees have failed to embrace the company’s vision.
There are plenty of companies that are getting it right, companies who align their vision and mission with their values and culture:
- Amazon: “To build a place where people can come to find and discover anything they might want to buy online.”
- Wegmans Food Markets: “Every day you get our best.”
- Google: “To organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful.”
For several decades now, business school graduates have spent countless hours crafting far-reaching, aspirational vision statements to guide their company’s growth and expansion. But the language of traditional vision statements, with phrases such as “best in class,” “global,” “industry-leading” and “superior products and services” seem archaic to today’s workforce.
Employees can’t and won’t embrace a vision they don’t understand. If you want to engage the support and loyalty of your workforce, you must give your employees a vision statement that they can relate to on a daily basis, one that will help them steer toward that fixed point on the horizon.