A buzz-word in our field of work is engagement. How engaged are the employees to the vision, mission and values of the organization that employs them? The Gallup group maintain from their surveys each year that employee engagement is at an all-time low of 21% meaning that 79% of employees are either not engaged or are actively disengaged.
If you were to ask me that single most important trigger that can significantly and sustainably improve engagement of employees it would be ensure the LEADERSHIP of the organization are clear on the vision, mission and values. Most importantly that the LEADERSHIP walks the talk on the values. There’s no greater cause for disconnect within an organization when the LEADERSHIP doesn’t honor and display the values the employees are expected to follow.
Lets briskly review each of the three aspects: vision, mission and values.
From our experience working with some outstanding organizations, vision comes first. The vision can be expressed in terms of “Where do we want to get and by when?” Poor vision statements are too generic such as “Be World Class”. Medicare vision statements just state where the organization wants to get to such as “Be #1 in the market”. The best vision statements include an “X to Y by when” statement such as “Move from #5 to #1 in the market by 2020.” See the difference?
A mission can be summarized in one word – “Why?” Why does the organization exist? Why do their customers buy their product and/or service? Their mission is as the French say, their reason to exist. Engagement can be massively amplified when an organization is clear on and communicates their mission well to all employees. Studies have found that the “Why” can carry employees through challenging times such as economic downturn, leadership change or other times of uncertainty.
Finally, values. This is the “How we will work together”. The “we” can be employee; leader to direct report; peer to peer; organization to vendor and organization to the general outside community. The vision and mission of an organization will sound like a clanging bell with no tone or pitch if the organization is unclear about or doesn’t hold people (all people, regardless of their seniority) accountable to these agreed-upon values.
Call to Action: as we head into the fall which is often a time of planning for the new calendar year, consider your organizational vision, mission and values. Do you know them? If you’re part of the senior leadership team it may be worth investing some time as a leadership team to take a retreat and consider these profound questions for the new year.