One of the biggest failings I’ve fallen victim to is moving forward with plans and visions that I had communicated articulately, clearly, and completely – to no one outside of myself. I fell victim to the common thread of entrepreneurs not communicating the organizations vision. The strategy and destination, which was so clear in my mind, was foggy at best to my team. People didn’t understand what was it in it for them, and the path to get to our destination seemed ill defined and unachievable.
Vision communication is a task that lives at the CEO/Managing Partner/Owner/Executive Director role, and cannot be delegated, shifted, or otherwise moved. It’s a “stuck task” at the top of the organization. One of the most expensive (if not the most) resources in the organization must manage, maintain, and perform the activity.
I hate roles that I can’t get rid of. I sucked at communication of vision. It required a few traits that were absolutely not my default behavior. I was terrible at doing things routinely, without fail, and making sure that they were done in a consistent and clear fashion. And because I didn’t, I failed at cheerleading my organization’s vision for more than a decade. And no one else could pick up the ball I continued to drop.
After a lot of feedback from our employee reviews (See information here) and performing pattern and trend analysis on our company (more information here), it became apparent this lack of execution on my part was a significant problem for the company. Something had to change, and it was my own behavior and approach to the problem. I tackled this the same way I addressed most problems – an obsessive amount of research, followed by creating a Frankenstein creation that worked for us, and me.
There was 6 big “Ah-ha’s” I wanted to share after the experience around cheerleading your vision:
- Consistency is key: creating a strategy around when you deliver the message, how you deliver the message, soliciting feedback about your message, and reporting status on the vision is needed. Ensuring that you stick to the strategy is essential.
- Clarity of vision: Making sure that what you say is heard, and that what your team hears is what you wanted to communicate. Create a method to solicit feedback that will be candid and honest – if people are getting the wrong take-aways from your vision, you won’t get the team aligned. It’s been reported that the average vocal communication between two people speaking the same language has, on average, about 30% efficacy in communication of the topic. Your team is getting 30% of the message – make sure you do what you can to increase and improve upon that figure. [Marcia Powers & Rachael Schweiger, MIMGMA 2021]
- Repetition: People need to hear things over and over and over to retain it. After 24 hours from a training, the average participant loses around 70% of the content presented [Bridge]. We will need to communicate our vision, progress, and what’s next for the organization on a constant basis until the team “Gets it” – and then we need to communicate it some more.
- Bite Sized Pieces: People get overwhelmed. If we have a 20-point plan on getting to where we are headed over the next 3 years and are working on 5 of those points this year, and each point has a 45-step action plan, and there are 30 key metrics our company looks at on its scorecard, the average Carrie ran away screaming before we got through listing point 2. You must break apart the vision into easily consumable parts and drip them out to your team on a calendar to make it easier to digest.
- Define the “Why”: Simon Sinek has created an entire brand around definition of “Why” in the workplace. Giving the younger workforce (those born after ~1980) motivation on why their work matters can help keep these team members engaged in your vision and plan. Exploring and explaining the “why” can help solidify that plan for your leadership team and puts you through a “vetting” process to make sure you’re taking the right actions for the right reasons.
- “What’s in it for Me?”: Everybody wants to know what they get if you succeed. Define the WIIFM clearly and reinforce it often.
These 6 learnings helped me as I refocused on vision communication as a core strategy for getting my team motivated, engaged, and aligned with where I wanted my company to go. They weren’t silver bullets – they didn’t fix every issue I had around the topic, but they formed the crux of a foundation for me to start communicating my vision more effectively to my team.
A useful book on the topic is The Energy Bus by Jon Gordon (Link Here to Amazon). Jon’s book is an easy, entertaining read around team motivation and cheerleading in the organization.
If you’re struggling with defining and communicating on your vision, company culture, or an organizational strategy, Richardson & Richardson can help. Check out our case studies for stories of organizations that we’ve assisted with similar issues and download our white papers for deep dives on tools you can use in your organization. If you’re wondering where to start, book a complimentary session with one of the Richardsons today to come up with a plan on how to move forward.
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