For years our culture development work has centered around three key questions:
• Where are we going (the vision or picture of our preferred future)?
• What do we believe in (our guiding values or principles)?
• Why do we exist (our reason for being, mission, or purpose)?
In the early years of our culture development work very few organizations had vision, values, mission, and the like. That’s drastically different today. Most organizations have “done their vision thing” and developed statements that hang on meeting room walls or sit in the “About Us” sections of their web site.
However, like health and fitness, there’s a big difference between good intentions and sustained actions. Far too many vision, values, and mission statements are a waste of paper and pixels. These declarations often “raise the eye roll factor,” increase cynicism, and frustrate people with their hypocrisy.
Zenger Folkman has just completed a study on the impact of a meaningful vision on employee engagement. Employees who don’t find their company’s vision meaningful have engagement scores of just 16%. On the other hand, those employees who find their organization’s vision highly meaningful have engagement scores at nearly 70%.
Looking at data from over 50,000 employees Zenger Folkman found eight factors that were key to enervating or energizing their organization’s vision. In “8 Ways to Ensure Your Vision is Valued” Joe Folkman outlines their findings:
1. The Vision is Inspiring and Motivating
2. Employee Engagement and Satisfaction is High
3. The Vision is Communicated through Multiple Channels
4. Innovation is used to Create Improvement
5. Managers’ Words Lead to Action
6. Leaders Are Open and Honest
7. The Organization is Quick to Respond
8. People can See the “Greater Good” the Vision Creates
Peanuts creator, Charles Schultz, once observed “there’s a difference between a philosophy and a bumper sticker.” Strong leaders transform rhetoric into reality.