Have you ever wondered why some companies seem to engage their employees deeply in the company’s vision and achieve success through stellar commitment? In our experience, if you can’t clearly communicate your organizational vision to your employees and stakeholders, it will be impossible to achieve it!
We have put together some top tips from our experience that will help you and your organization on the road to success by articulating, communicating, and living a clear and strong vision.
Let’s begin with what it takes to create a strong, sustainable vision for your organization. Our recent blog post; Getting started on the right foot with your company’s purpose, vision, mission, and core values , defines vision, overviews vision statements and provides a step-by-step path to create a lasting, clear vision… and so much more. Check it out!
Tip 1: Develop Vision Collaboratively
As you approach the creation and development of your organizational vision, it is important to nurture buy-in and engagement from the very beginning. Involving stakeholders from the start is a great way to ensure that everyone is not only on the same page, but that those involved understand the depth and reasoning behind “why this vision” and “what’s in it” for them.
In my experience, hosting facilitated creative-meetings to get all your employees and stakeholders engaged, thinking deeply about the company, and contributing to the creation of your vision has many positive benefits.
For example, in a series of meetings with my 12 direct reports, we found significant employee and stakeholder buy-in made the implementation process easier and more enjoyable. A high-impact practice was the task of having each team member develop their “persistent stories,” essentially their “why” in relation to the larger vision. We all learned a great deal about each other, and the company had dozens of stories to leverage. The impact far surpassed expectations.
A top-down approach is often utilized and may create an environment where the ideals of your organization’s vision are lost, or may take precious time away from your company’s success as you secure buy-in. We recommend iterating your building the vision both top down and bottom up with your employees and stakeholders to expedite commitment, engagement, and buy-in.
A bottom-up approach will not only reinforce the message and drive but will also foster good-will and trust toward how the vision benefits your clients and illuminates the “why” for stakeholders. Personal satisfaction is crucial for business growth and alignment and engaging those closest to the organization from the get-go will only improve your chances for success.
Engaging these stakeholders from the beginning will allow you to leverage their expertise and experience. The result is a vision that will accurately reflect who your company is, what it does, and the ultimate value that you deliver to your customers. A clear, unified vision will ensure that your company attracts the right people and ultimately improves success.
Tip 2: Give Them a Reason to Believe
As you approach your employees and stakeholders with your vision, it is important to give them a reason to believe, in the words and sentiments of your vision, and the deeper “why.” Your messaging must communicate the benefit to all your stakeholders and will promote a culture of belonging and engagement.
Esoteric statements and intangible commitments to your clients simply will not mean much to your stakeholders, as individuals. An organic, authentic, and well-developed (through engagement in the creation process) will personalize your vision and will serve as fodder to establish benefits and a personal belief in your organization’s “why.”
Tip 3: Understand Your Audience
It is important to take a broad look at your team and stakeholders to understand what drives them. Before taking the first steps in creating and communicating your vision, consider the following questions about the team and those involved:
- What do they know about the current state of your organization, future goals, and/or the larger strategy?
- What are the current expectations and feelings about the organization?
- How would stakeholders interpret and push-back on the vision?
- How can I, as a leader, help to create buy-in and trust?
As you continue to think about this important audience, some other considerations should include how can I shape the message and communication to their needs; what action-oriented steps need to be taken to ensure buy-in; and lastly, how can I engage them holistically – especially their emotions – where the best stakeholder engagement and commitment is born.
Tip 4: Tell a Compelling Story
Crafting a great story is a superb way to communicate your organizational vision by capturing the minds (and hearts!) of those who will carry the company vision forward. Sharing your vision through storytelling creates an emotional bond that will cultivate a deep understanding and ultimately, a rooted commitment to the vision.
In addition to the emotional bonds fostered by good stories, they also help to develop trust, engage employees and stakeholders in a way which creates feedback loops, and will build a great springboard for your vision. Be sure not to overdo it though, as the best stories are clear, simple, and easy to recall in a less than five-minute format. These short stories will give a new life to your vision!
Don’t be afraid to get creative. The more memorable, the better.
Tip 5: Hone Your Story to a Short, Concise Statement (“Elevator Pitch”)
We have all heard of the “elevator pitch” – essentially, what compelling vision can you articulate in the amount of time you have on an elevator ride (30 seconds to 1 minute). Everyone in your organization, especially your leaders, need to be able to communicate your vision in a brief and clear statement. The elevator pitch can be deployed anywhere and often has a lasting impact on the listener – especially when the teller is passionate and authentic.
Tip 6: Be Authentic
Authenticity has reached “buzzword” status across sectors, but leaders should not underestimate the importance of being authentic, especially when it comes to sharing vision. Authenticity builds trust, transparency, and instills a strong sense of ownership and responsibility to and for the vision at every level of rank in your organization.
Being authentic also fosters a sense of approachability, which is critical for feedback from employees and stakeholders. Every leader should endeavor to be open to concerns and issues, feedback, and pushback, which will allow for the organization to respond to its invaluable constituents in an informed way.
Tip 7: Communicate Vision Through Multiple Channels and Forms of Media
The process of clearly communicating your organizational vision is no easy task, though one way to help ensure that all stakeholders are engaged and clearly understand the vision is to diversify the methods of communication.
When we talk about diversifying, we are referring to both the media and the specific content shared. You’ll want to ensure that you’re reaching all the audiences that you considered (above), while sharing critical vision content in ways that will capture (and grip) all those you hope to reach.
Here are a few ideas for diversifying your vision communications:
- Group presentations
- Team meetings and 1:1 conversations
- Newsletters and other e-centric resources
- Internal communication systems (intranet)
- Notice boards and visually appealing graphics in common areas
- Fun “swag”
- Social media
The key to instilling vision is all about message circulation. Don’t be afraid to meet your employees and stakeholders where they are and get a little “scrappy” and informal – just remember to keep things authentic, compelling, easily accessible, and appeal to the deeper emotion.
Tip 8: Assign and Empower “Vision Leaders” or Ambassadors
A great way to set the tone, maintain message consistency, and ensure operationalizing of the vision (living it every day in all you do) is to use Vision Leaders or Vision Ambassadors. Typically, ambassadors are managers within the organization who have direct responsibility for the oversight of employees and ultimately “how” the vision is realized in the day-to-day activities of the company.
Being a vision leader comes with its own set of responsibilities, which will vary by organization, product, process, and other variables. The most important duty is to help their teams grasp the deeper context of their efforts toward achieving the vision, which will ultimately foster greater value in their work. When employees and stakeholders can see how their tasks and day-to-day work impacts and serves the vision, you’ve struck gold!
Here are a few examples of how vision leaders/ambassadors can build stronger understanding among their teams:
- Articulate how every project/task is traced back to the vision
- Support and foster collaboration across the company to improve productivity and engagement
- Clearly define how their work improves and empowers others to achieve the larger goals of the company
- Communicate the importance of how understanding the vision can support cohesion
Articulating exactly how each member of the team supports the larger vision can be a daunting task but encourage your ambassadors to get creative. For it is in this level of vision understanding that organizations can achieve greatest success – all the oars in the water at the same time, rowing in the same direction.
A recent client that we were helping created a team of ambassadors to support our initiatives. They deployed some creative ways to identify the vision leaders in the organization. By implementing a series of pop-up swag and color-designated attire, employees knew who to go to for questions. These ambassadors were easy to spot making the vision and guidance around operationalizing it simple.
Tip 9: Repeat Your Efforts and Vision (Repetition is Key)
Ever heard the adage “practice makes perfect,” or “practice makes better?” Repetition is at the root of practice, and we all know that repetition is the key to mastery, building, growth, and more. It would stand to reason that, like practicing, repetition can only foster clarity, commitment, and an intimate familiarity with your organization’s vision. Coupling repetition and diverse communication methods/media, you’ll have a recipe for success.
Sometimes, repetition can be boring and lead to disenfranchised employees, so keep things “light” and “fun.” Find creative ways to keep your vision in front of your stakeholders that may not feel like an obvious point of repetition, but still achieve the same effect.
Tip 10: Model the Way and Back-up Your Vision with Personal Action
Communicating and operationalizing a vision helps to ensure success when you are seeking long lasting impact (which we hope you are), you must also model the way through your individual behavior and personal actions. In other words, if you “talk the talk” but don’t “walk the walk,” your vision is as good as dead, and any efforts to restore it will be much more complicated.
Although there is no “right way” to approach clarifying and communicating your company’s vision, we found that these tips made it to the top of the research pile time and time again. Every company is different, with different needs, different cultures and environments, different kinds of stakeholders, etc., and if you can stay laser-focused on a clear and compelling vision that can be easily communicated, one that everyone can get behind and be passionate about, you celebrate it pridefully, and live it out every day (in every process), you are off to a great start, and you have made a huge step toward ensuring success.
Also, message consistency is a critical component of communicating your vision. Small/micro-variations may seem harmless and in the long run can create confusion and frustration. Assigning vision leaders or ambassadors across the organization is a great way to ensure that any inconsistencies in the communication and understanding of the vision can be adjusted, as quickly as possible. This will keep everyone happy, focused, and ready to champion the vision toward your organization’s success.
Remember, if you can’t clearly communicate your organization’s vision to your employees and stakeholders, it will be impossible to achieve it!
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