Vision Building Can Fix Motivation Problems
By: Ian Richardson, Managing Partner, Richardson & Richardson Consulting LLC
Vision Building is A Cure For Motivation Problems
Motivation problems were killing my team.
People were having a tough go at showing up and doing the “grind.” In my former life, I ran an I.T. services and sales organization. Our primary offering was I.T. support for small businesses around the Mid-Michigan region.
How Do You Know You Have Motivation Problems?
It’s important to understand what I mean when I say “Motivation problems were killing my team.”
I.T. support is a soul crushing, grind all day with no thanks, never have a “great day” type of field.
No one wants to be the “help desk” technician for forever. Entry level skillset employees come in with a passion around technology and not a lot of knowledge outside of critical thinking and problem solving. We found that for our team, we had to get someone in this sort of state and “mold them” into the type of staff member we needed. We couldn’t usually rely on outside experience because it was never the “right” type of experience.
Small business I.T. support (“SMB managed services” in our industry-speak) is fast paced, high stress, constant adaptation type work – you’ll be resetting a password one minute and troubleshooting an environment down issue with a custom application the next. These actions would be performed for two different companies with two different corporate cultures.
There isn’t a class or work environment that quite matches up with that sort of day-to-day experience that I found outside of someone who has “done it” – worked with a managed IT support team – before.
Stress Without A Vision Creates Motivation Problems
This constantly changing, stress-filled environment made it really hard for my team to keep showing up every day and busting their chops to fix issues. They were trying to empty the ocean with a bucket, and some days, it seemed like the bucket had a hole in the bottom.
There weren’t a huge number of tools in my toolbox with which I could solve this problem.
Pay, benefits, and perks were evaluated, but we were a small business. We didn’t have the resources of enterprise, we couldn’t drop an onsite fitness center into a 5000 sq foot office building, or pay for undergraduate studies. We did offer fair pay, healthcare, small perks, occasional company outings, and some retirement planning. Company lunches and celebrations seemed to fade very quickly. Peer recognition and rewarding would get a quick laugh for funny images combined with witty banter but didn’t “solve” the issue. Employee reviews and guidance, along with training budgets and educational supplies could help someone combat stress from not knowing how to solve problems, but we couldn’t force people to learn (We tried).
Vision Building And Your “Why”
There was something bigger going on, and I was stuck.
While trying to figure this out, I happened to go to an I.T. industry conference and I had the chance to hear Simon Sinek speak. Mr. Sinek was starting to tour for his “Start with Why” book (a great read for those who haven’t consumed it yet), and I was fascinated.
After you handle “safety”, which includes things like making sure people can pay their bills, people start to look for something different from their job/career. They want something more. This “more” was what fascinated me. I knew I couldn’t get someone “all the way” to safety, not for entry level work (Sinek had mentioned a figure of around $70K USD, that wasn’t happening in mid-Michigan for I.T. support / helpdesk), but maybe, just maybe, I could find “more” and use it to my advantage.
Don’t Start Vision Building Before You Understand Your Mission
We started with a mission statement:
- What were we doing?
- Why did we exist?
- What was the point?
- How would we leave our mark on our world?
- How would the work we did every day impact our local community?
Define Your Core Values, Then Focus on Vision Building
We moved onto core values, which included:
- the principles and ethos that we would not stray from,
- the statements we could use to help form good decision-making.
These helped, immensely, to give our team some tools. We saw motivation start to increase. But it didn’t get us all the way there – we still were getting burned out.
Vision Building Fixes Motivation Problems By Guiding The Way
I realized we were functioning like someone in a cave, or in a dark tunnel. There needed to be a light at the end to make it “worth” going through.
Our mission and our core values needed to be used alongside something else – a guiding “north star” for the company.
Thus came our vision statement.
Simple Steps For Vision Building
Vision building didn’t need to be complicated. A vision that was simple and easy to digest made it more accessible for our team. I strung together a statement around where we were today, considering the following:
- operations (skills, team makeup, tools)
- strategy (focus, techniques used for delivery, retention of clients/staff, and sales approach)
- finance (things like perks, benefits, top line revenue, profit goals, and profit sharing).
From there, we set some targets:
- Where were we going to be in 3 years?
- What was the team going to look like?
- What was the financial impact for each team member?
- What other benefits would the team experience if we were successful?
- What would the impact be on the community in terms of the organizations we supported?
After defining where we were headed, the last piece of our vision building was putting down some concrete items on how we would get there. We considered the things we would need to change to get us from current to future state including:
- any other items our team would need in order to succeed
A Vison Without A Plan Is Just A Daydream
Getting these items down on paper made it clear:
- Here’s where we are going.
- Here’s what the end of the tunnel looks like.
- Here’s how we will get there.
That end of the tunnel picture was so critical! There had to be a light at the other end for people to believe in. They needed something to move towards, and something to have as motivation. The “more” had to be clear for all, and I found that it really did work.
Motivation Problems Don’t Go Away If They’re Ignored
If you’re struggling with motivation, or want help on crafting a corporate vision, Richardson & Richardson can help. Take a look at our whitepapers for tools you can implement in your business today.
You can also head to our blog to find more content around mission, vision, and core values.
If you think you’d like to talk about how we can help you and your team find your “more”, book a complimentary 90-minute consultation here to get the conversation started.
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