Every organization wants to grow with that growth reflected, not just in the bottom line, but also in the capability and confidence of their employees. When companies struggle to advance, it may often have very little to do employee capabilities and more to do with an ambiguous company strategy or a strategy that is not effectively communicated across the organization for optimal alignment. Let’s face it, organizations have enough to do trying to juggle the constant demands that come with doing business. When you toss in an evolving workforce and constant customer/marketplace variability, staying the course can be challenging. Especially if you never mapped the course to begin with.

To successfully navigate the constant internal and external pressures, you need a clear and compelling vision with values that define the behaviors needed to support your company’s strategy. Without these, you’re like a ship without a rudder, at the mercy of a very volatile and unpredictable sea. Having these two things outlined – and clearly communicated throughout your organization – may be the difference between merely surviving and positively exceeding.

Employees have to see it to believe it

Many of today’s employees want more out of a job than just a paycheck. They want to be a part of something bigger – and to believe they’ve contributed to the success of the company’s mission. But employees may feel less confident with inconsistent leadership and a lack of communication about progress against the mission. You may think your employees understand your company’s mission and values – but if you’ve never outlined them and communicated, clarified and reinforced them company-wide, there may be a lot left to interpretation.

Successful companies realize they need a clear vision and strong values that are exciting and compelling, and also clearly communicated. Otherwise, how can they expect their staff to execute well? These need to become a part of your employees’ mantra and woven into the very fabric of the organization’s culture. If employees don’t have a clear picture of the future direction of the company, and a compelling purpose for that vision, they may struggle to stay engaged. If your company has a high turnover rate, ask yourself: “Are my employees choosing to leave because they don’t feel connected to the company’s vision and mission? Do they fully understand what impact they have on the company’s future state?” Then ask yourself, “Are we modeling the behaviors that we wish to see played out throughout the organization”.

To have an engaged workforce, three things are required:

  1. Clear vision. What course has the organization set, and does everyone understand what it will take to get there? Does every team member understand what role they play in fulfilling that vision?
  2. Values modeled. As they say, “walk the talk.” Team members are more likely to believe in an organization’s established values if their leaders consistently demonstrate behaviors that are aligned with the core values.
  3. Empowered workforce. Your team members need to know they have your full confidence and a high level of clarity on the decision authority for their activiities. Studies show you’re more likely to create a culture of high performance if you give employees the power of choice and autonomy.

If you build it, they will come

Unifying your workforce under a common banner of vision and values starts with getting back to the basics. Why does your organization exist? What does your organization hope to become? At Denison, we use these basic questions to help organizations create and communicate their vision, strategy, and values.

Using our Denison assessment tool, we help organizations understand why they do business. In other words, we help them define their purpose. With that information, we help them outline their future state, which then becomes their vision. The steps to achieve their vision becomes the strategy.

The values are the bedrock of your company. These tell your employees how you want them to treat each other and your clients, which work to ultimately achieve the vision.  Your company may have some firmly established values, or you may need to write all new ones. We will help your executive team determine what values are the “right” ones for driving your strategy and achieving your vision, while still unifying (rather than alienating) your workforce.

Purpose leads to vision leads to strategy, with a grounding in values.

Is it worth it?

Yes, we’ve found that when future initiatives are anchored to the organization’s overall vision, and underscored by their values, they are more likely to succeed. Denison has numerous research studies available that show why strong vision and values is vital to any organization. You may feel like taking the time to do this work will be counterproductive – and take your people away from the more important work of running the company. But if you do the hard work of creating a strong foundation, and then help your employees “own” it and live it out, you’ll begin to see your organization grow into the high performance culture you’ve always wanted.

To learn more about how Denison can help your organization better define your vision and values, contact us today.

  • Austin Adams
    Austin Adams VP, Research & Analytics
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