We have all seen various types of vision statements posted across organizations. These statements have different names such as âMission Statementâ, âStatement of Core Values ââand Principlesâ, âQuality Visionâ, âCustomer Commitment Statementâ or simply âCompany Vision Statementâ. Usually, these vision statements are developed after a period of careful consideration and involve significant effort on the part of the management team. Some of these statements are well written and deliver a clear message.
Unfortunately, in my experience, very few employees take the time to read these vision statements, and those who don’t understand them or don’t know how they relate to them personally. If so, a business has really missed an opportunity to get an important message across. Words may sound good, and maybe some clients are impressed that the company took the time to outline their vision, but without real buy-in from the workforce, the vision statement is nothing. more than words on a page.
Companies that are serious about turning a vision into reality should involve their employees in creating a meaningful vision statement. Employee support involves employee involvement. The need for a vision statement will always be a ‘top down’ directive, but its development must come from ‘the bottom up’.
A convenient way to get employee input for a vision statement is for managers to spend time soliciting personal feedback regarding each employee’s views on the company. This can be done in a structured way, with the manager asking questions such as:
- What do you think we are doing well?
- What do you value most about the business?
- What do you think our customers are most satisfied with today?
- How can we continue to satisfy our customers in the future?
Simple questions like these should elicit some input from everyone. Of course, some responses will be more positive than others, but it’s important to give all employees the opportunity to express their point of view.
Once each manager has obtained an entry, that entry should be sorted into categories. Examples of applicable categories include workforce engagement, customer focus, quality, process capabilities, employee knowledge base, timeliness, and reinvestment in facilities.
The next step is for the management team to put together and review specific categories and comments from employees. The objective is to find common points between the feedback obtained. The most frequent answers will form the core of the vision statement. From the core, the whole vision statement will be developed. In its final version, the vision statement should be:
- Short and straight to the point– Overly wordy vision statements lose their meaning. When it comes to vision statements, the phrase âless is moreâ is true.
- Positive– While it is not necessary to distort the image of a company, the emphasis should be placed on its positive aspects and traits. One of the goals of a vision statement is to make people feel good and personally connected to the business.
- Universally understandable– The shorter the words, the greater the chances of understanding the vision statement across the organization. Highly technical terms have their place in corporate literature and day-to-day operations, but have no place in a vision statement.
- Achievable for everyone, regardless of their level in the organization– The vision statement should be something that everyone can relate to – it cannot be too specific to a particular area of ââthe business. For example, if the vision statement is heavily focused on new product development, machinists or administrative staff may not think they can make a significant contribution to it. On the other hand, a more general statement that emphasizes producing products that best meet customer needs is something that everyone in the organization can feel a part of.
Vision statements are just one type of communication tool that can prove invaluable to any organization. A shared vision is an essential first step in the success of a business. Yet all too often we allow a few elected officials to create our vision statement and expect everyone to buy into it. The best vision statements are those developed with everyone’s input. Keep this in mind when you feel the need to generate a vision for your business.