This is the comment I received from the Matt Thalmayer, President of Arrow Staffing. One of his managers had sent Matt an email the day after he and his leadership team had attended a Lead With Purpose half-day Workshop to get their plan ready for 2015. This employee was excited to truly understand Matt’s ‘bigger Vision and future of the company.’ The company’s previous Vision statement was:
“To be the premier privately held staffing service, known for our long-term partnerships with our customers, the character of our staff and the integrity of our services.”
While this is OK, does this really inspire employees and do they clearly see where the company is going and what it looks like in 10 years? Not really.
In the workshop, the team looked to Matt for input on the future of the company. Together, the team came up with a vivid story told around a company four times larger than it is today. The company was able to add helping technical and skilled professionals find a great career. There was an expansion into other states so they could support larger companies with multiple sites in different locations. There was the opening of a school to help mentor and develop the people they were placing. The company would have a fulltime person internally committed to employee training and development. If you walked into their offices, you would see the company using the latest technology.
Matt felt the energy of his team go up in the workshop when discussing the new Vision. He saw how powerful and inspiring it can be to help get everyone excited about what they are doing and all on the same page.
The goal for Matt and his team now is to use this story and from it, create a shorter, inspiring and memorable headline that will be easy to remember.
Why Have a Vision?
Having a Vision is invaluable because it encourages you to look into the future and see how you want to grow and shape your company. It stretches your mind to the possibilities of what you can accomplish over an extended period of time. It acts as a focal point for the entire organization in terms of what you will strive to do and who you can become in the world.
One of the most famous Visions is President John F. Kennedy’s 1961 statement that America would commit to landing a man on the moon and return him safely to earth “before this decade is out.” Kennedy’s vision of space exploration provoked an amazingly productive decade of scientific and technological innovation, ranging from rockets to space suits to freeze dried food and Tang. His vision was so powerful that it inspired ongoing innovation even after his death in 1963. Ever since Kennedy’s vision of a moon landing within a decade, many have thought of Blue Sky Visioning as a 10-year exercise. Some people even refer to it as “creating a moon shot.”
What the Bible Says
We all know that it is important to have a common envisioned future that everyone can see and feel. From the Bible, I am reminded of Proverbs 29:18:
“Where there is no vision the people will perish”
This is also true in businesses today that don’t have a strong Vision and people may ‘perish’ in two ways. Often, the best and most talented employees are looking to move mountains in the work that they do. If you are not clearly showing these ‘A’ players how their daily works links to an inspiring Vision and staying focused on what matters most, they will ‘perish’ from your company and go elsewhere.
Additionally, many people view their current work as just having a JOB. They are working at a company, but they have ‘perished’ in place. They barely do what is minimally necessary to complete their work. This is backed up by the 2013 employee engagement statistics which shows that 70% of all US workers are miserable or apathetic towards their work and where they spend 8 hours of their day.
A strong and inspiring Vision can help solve this problem and create more engaged employees.
How to Create Your Company’s Vision
To create a meaningful Vision, begin by listing real accomplishments you want to achieve ten years from now. These should be grounded in the history of your company—things that you have already achieved and know you can do in a certain timeframe—while at the same time projecting your capabilities into the future under the most positive of circumstances. In your ideal world scenario, you are able to overcome most barriers to your business. You can get the technology you need. You have the right people and enough resources. Given this freedom, ask yourself questions like the following about the period ten years from today:
- What products and services do we provide?
- Who are our customers?
- How many employees do we have?
- How many offices do we have?
- What do the facilities and offices look like?
- What are our annual revenues?
- What significant goals have we accomplished?
- What awards and recognition have we earned?
- How do we impact the world?
- What problems do our customers look to us to solve?
If you can answer these types of questions, you are on your way to formulating a great Vision. Work with your team to collate and refine whatever visions everyone offers. Your goal is then to create a headline that best represents the entire story. It is similar to the headline of a newspaper article.
As you look to get your plan ready for 2015, take a look at your Vision and make sure it is well defined, clearly inspiring, and that you are repeating it as often as you can. Doing so will prevent your employees from ‘perishing.’
Marc Koehler is the President of Lead With Purpose. The company believes that every person is born with the ability to be a leader. The tools and best practices were born out of 30+ years of real-world experiences in business, family, and coaching leadership positions and help leaders get everyone on the same page and focused on the most important things.