If you’re a leader this concept will not be a new one. You may be working towards one that has been laid down by management.
Let’s be clear what we mean about vision.
A vision could be pulled together by the CEO and senior team with board level input. This will then get communicated into the business, so everyone knows what it is.
This one you probably haven’t seen that often – Within the functions and teams of the organisation, visions are created by leaders, with or without involvement from their people, to drive everyone in a certain direction. This doesn’t replace the company vision; it should be aligned. These team visions are created to help people ‘hook’ into something that makes more sense to their world but still fits within the big picture.
So, why don’t more leaders/managers prioritise team vision as something they need to get the best from their teams?
Based on what I have seen and my own experience with this concept, the reasons for doing this just aren’t understood and the depiction of a company vision ticks the vision box.
So, here are 5 reasons to help you see why you should think about having a vision for your department or team.
1. People don’t just automatically understand how to ‘hook’ into the company vision.
Go and have a look at your company vision. It’s normally a statement or a paragraph of some sort. Ask yourself these questions – What does it say? How close do you feel to understanding what this means for you, for your team? What does it say about your daily work?
It’s really important as it’s setting the strategic direction for the company, but as you flow down the hierarchy of medium/large organisations its power and message become lost. The strategic understanding dissolves and you get left with a gap. If you ask your people how their work relates to the bigger picture, they will find it really difficult to draw the connection. Of course, that makes sense as we are often talk about something spanning 5 or 6 layers of management.
People need a way to make sense at their level.
2. When people feel part of something bigger than themselves, they’re more engaged.
Have you ever felt the difference between working with a purpose and just working? You will definitely know if you have. Working with a purpose can make the most mundane work feel like the job of a superhero. I’m sure you’ve heard the story about the guy sweeping the floor at Nasa who believed he was helping to put a man on the moon.
Do your people feel close enough to the company vision that they feel engaged by it? You might see some of this in your employee engagement surveys…
Think about it, if they are being asked to engage with something strategic that they did not create. It’s hard for them to make a connection and the connection you want is an emotional one. They need to see themselves in that story (as the guy sweeping up did) and a great way to do that is to give them a way of helping to design a little bit of that future.
People need a way to invest.
3. It’s easier to make good decisions when you have a point of reference that guides you.
I must have spent a million hours in meetings over the last 20 years. All of them had decisions made about a range of things. Apart from the ones I’ve had in the last 2 years can I honestly say that the decisions made were being reconciled back to a vision to ensure they were in the right direction?
The answer is no. For myself and most definitely for a large chunk of the leaders I’ve worked with. For 2 reasons. Firstly, the gap to the big vision is too big and so decisions become linked to the things in site, such as other projects etc. Secondly, it’s not just a habit. Not one that I’ve seen in practice that often anyway.
Having something there that can act as a reminder, an anchor point, and a way of having better discussions and making better decisions is a no brainer in my eyes now. I wish I had thought about this years ago.
Leaders need a reference point to guide decision making.
4. Change is made easier and more relatable as people understand where it fits.
Landing change initiatives is hard at the best of times. There are always lots of challenges with people understanding why you are doing something; it doesn’t make sense to some groups or it feels like you are making something more difficult etc etc.
I’ve seen lots of changes and I’ve delivered a large chunk of them myself. One thing that I personally was sometimes good at, sometimes not so good at, was tying into the bigger picture. If I think about the changes where I did get more traction it was definitely when it was more relatable to the people involved. But this was always hard. In order to understand that, you had to speak to everyone and try get a sense of what was going on before trying to convince people of why change was needed.
The problem with all of this is that it doesn’t always fit easily into their own vision for what they want to happen. To do that across lots of people is really difficult unless they have already consolidated a direction as a group.
Change agents need a clear understanding of the team’s direction to tap into.
5. You can set big goals or challenges against the direction that allows you to pull everyone towards.
This is an amazing benefit of having a team vision. Imagine you want to reduce down the failure rate or increase the quality of something. Assuming that this kind of improvement is depicted in your vision you can easily link this challenge in.
Being able to link a big goal and set everyone off in the direction of achieving, it is extremely powerful and more likely to succeed than if you set 2 people on the problem to resolve it. An army of people with a common goal that is linked to a shared purpose is a huge asset and should not be understated.
What challenges have you got on at the minute and how have you set your team/department/function on tackling them?
If you haven’t set your people in the direction of meeting the challenge with a clear purpose, then you might be missing a massive trick. People need big goals set against a direction that they understand to be able to contribute.
So, there you go, 5 reasons why you should think about having a team vision if you haven’t already got something.
If you still don’t believe that this is an important element for both you and your people, then maybe ask yourself the question: Why do the senior leaders set out a vision if it’s not vital?
I hope this helped. In the current climate with everything that’s going on I believe if people can find more purpose in the things they do, it can really help with whatever challenges they may have going on. As Leaders there is so much we can do to help, somethings are so simple and sometimes I don’t think we realise it enough.
If anyone wants to grab a deeper conversation around this, feel free to drop me a message.