Ask any CEO or executive if it is important to communicate the company vision clearly to their employees and most will agree it is important. Most will even say they have done enough to ensure clarity throughout the organization, yet most employees really don’t know.
According to a Harvard Business Review article, “When CEOs Talk Strategy, Is Anyone Listening?” only a small percentage of employees know where their company is going (vision) and how they are going to get there (strategy). The article includes research that shows only 29 percent of employees can correctly identify their company’s strategy out of six choices. This means seven out of 10 employees are unknowingly misaligned with your company’s vision and strategic direction.
There are strategies that can help you achieve a much higher rate of clarity on this subject. This role lies squarely on the shoulders of the CEO to ensure the mantra is constantly and consistently communicated. This includes making sure the executive team is clear on the vision, how it should be communicated and how often. The CEO needs to have this on their radar or the message will be lost. They need to repeat, repeat, repeat the message every time they get the chance which should be daily. But not only do they need to say it, they need to live it.
I’ve been in an organization that has done this well and here is how they did it:
Every quarterly town hall meeting was opened with the company vision and mission statement – the entire thing….no shortcuts.
Everyone had a copy on their desk and were issued a new one at least every year in the form of a mouse pad or pen or promo item of the month. There was a cost, but it worked.
Customer communications included the vision statement. We lived it or we heard about it from our customers.
Management level employees were asked to share the vision with vendors. Yes, even our vendors knew what we stood for and many could quote it.
Every common area had a sign, picture of other visual that represented the vision. There were constant reminders everywhere.
When big decisions were made, the vision statement was referenced for clarity as to how it influenced the outcome. It was always clear, we were walking the walk.
The CEO’s words and actions were consistent with the vision.
Employees were proud of the vision for the company, talked about it and remained loyal. I believe it was due to the clarity and purpose regarding why they came to work every day.
According to McKinsey and Company, “When people understand and are excited about the direction their company is taking, the company’s earnings margin is twice as likely to be above the median.”
Today more than ever, if you want to achieve organizational alignment that will drive optimal business performance — you have to be clear in your vision and strategy, communicate it and most importantly, live it.