Is your company Vision meaningful, or meaningless?
As consumers we see vision and mission statements all the time. Browse most business or organisational websites and it wont take long for you to see spurious phrases and jargon proclaiming various things like ‘putting our customers first’ or ‘assuring you of our best intentions’. Plenty of companies I have worked with (and no doubt will in the future) have equally hollow phrases and marketing nonsense. It’s meaningless. Mostly inaccurate and frankly people see straight through it.
So what's the point of a vision? Does it have any material benefit to a company and it's people? Is it worth having one at all? Yes.
Whenever I meet a client for the first time, one of the very first questions I ask is ‘what’s your company vision’ (or what’s your vision)? Often I get the common response as alluded to above or nothing at all. They are missing out. A company vision can be a powerful tool and this is how & why:
1. It’s aids in setting a positive culture for the business. When carefully thought-through and practiced in every aspect of the business operation, it becomes ingrained in the company culture and behaviour. Staff, stakeholders and customers know what to expect when dealing with a company when they practice what they preach. It also sets behavioural expectations and adoption of company values.
2. It keeps employees engaged, giving a sense of purpose and satisfaction – especially where staff are fully on-board with the vision and understand what their purpose is in delivering on the objectives of that vision. Lucy English (Mission Possible) asserts that 84% of mission strong employees indicate high levels of job satisfaction Vs 24% with a mission weak employees.
3. It can be a good marketing line – there’s no reason why not. When a vision becomes effective and overt, it can support and encourage stronger relationships with current and future clients and customers. It is also more likely to produce ambassadors for your business. If your staff are motivated, happy, feel valued and are well supported, they are far more likely to advocate the services or products it offers to others. Conversely we’ve all had the work moan from people (guilty!).
4. A good starting point – it’s normally the very first thing a founder might put down on their business plan. It clarifies and allows founders to test their ideas and hypothesise. It's quite often a conversation starter when seeking funding or finance. It gives the business a target – something to aim at or a milestone to achieve whilst having inbuilt values or meaning to help the business get there.
There are plenty of other reasons to consider a vision for your business. Consider too the destructive power where your vision is forgotten or is conjured up at a SMT meeting, perhaps worse is a business leader keeping it a closely guarded secret or fail to enact or live the vision.
It needs to have meaning in order for it to have value. As R Branson once said; ‘…say what you really mean and make it memorable’.
All too often businesses and leaders fail to adjust or update their vision with a changing environment. It is ok to do this. Directions of travel change all the time so too does the company and culture to support it.
At a time when our businesses and workforces are located at home more than they are in an office with colleagues, retaining good people is going to be more and more difficult. After all, why would anybody chose to work for you if they don’t feel valued with are devoid of a sense of purpose in their day-to-day?
Working in the office with hundreds, or home alone in a bedroom, doing so with a purpose and with a clear vision in mind is far more powerful than you might think. It’s not difficult to do and there are plenty of ways to do it – including getting your employees involved in the process.
So what is the point of a mission or vision within a business? Are they merely an outdated marketing strategy, or are they something that is intrinsically important to the success or failure of a business? I believe it’s the latter. What do you think?
What’s your company vision? Do your people know it too?