How not to lose sight of your company's vision and mission as you grow
Company mission and vision can be amazing tools to build sustainable workplaces and businesses when their role aren’t relegated to coffee mugs and other office décor. They are a positive reinforcement of the many ways in which an organization can make a difference – to its customers, stakeholders, community, and to its employees. It can break the silos and bring people together to work towards a shared goal.
Often, smaller, agile teams that businesses start out with truly believe in the vision and mission of their employer. But scale and growth can hamper this commitment. New people, new processes, new business needs can take the focus away from the purpose of a startup as it grows into a unicorn. It has happened many times over and very few organizations, like Amazon and Apple, have been able to stick with the vision they started out with. Their success is proof that while culture, operations, and size of organizations can be dynamic; their true purpose doesn’t have to be.
The role of the leaders or founders of organizations is the most crucial one in ensuring that employees remember how every business decision needs to be steered by the company mission. Here are some ways to achieve it:
Lead by example
As a founder or CEO, it is important that you believe in the mission and vision of your organization as much as your employees do. Respect for individuals is part of your mission statement? Then don’t call people names when you have tough conversations with them. Is customer centricity at the heart of your company values? Then take action every time you get a personal email or tweet from an angry customer. When your employees see you living the vision each day at work, only then they will understand its seriousness and not relegate it to yet another empty corporate banality.
Clarity is essential
I will tell you this – company visions often have so much corporate speak and jargons in them that it is hard to take them seriously. Simplify the message for your workforce, especially the new employees who have joined you during your growth phase. Show them how easy it is to put it into practice. Train your managers to regularly display to their staff how each task and decision can be guided by the company vision and values. That is the only way to make your vision more action-oriented than a matter of discussion and pontificating or worse, office décor.
Reward those who live your mission
Validation and appreciation is a great way to show that you and your organization take the vision seriously. Company vision is the most positive thing a business intends to do for the community in general. If you have employees who take your vision seriously and use it to navigate business decisions for the greater good, they must be rewarded for it.
Understand and communicate the trade offs
Sometimes, sticking with company mission may not necessarily be a financially wise choice. For example, if your company values are all about putting the focus on existing customers before chasing new business, don’t penalize an over-worked, understaffed employee who does not have time for business development. That is a trade off you are going to have to live with. The right thing to do can’t always be a win-win proposition for everyone.
A strong and impactful company mission is only half the battle won if it does not resonate with most of your workforce. When applied correctly to decisions, tasks and general work culture, company mission and vision can enhance employee engagement and the sense of purpose within the organization. It is important to reinforce the message at every opportunity for it to make the intended impact on your organization’s reputation and health.