Don’t Wait Around for the Company CEO to Explain the Vision

by Jennifer Miller on November 12, 2014

in Leadership, Workplace Issues

If you’re a manager, did you know that part of your job description includes the ability to translate vague corporate-speak mission and vision statements into actionable tasks for your team?

TranslationWhat? You just checked your job description and it says absolutely nothing about that? Well, you’re out of luck, because if you want a team that’s highly engaged and ready to do the job, you’d better add “vision interpreter” to your to-do list. If you think that communicating vision is the CEO’s job, you’d be right. Creating the vision for the organization’s direction starts with the senior management team. And, it continues with you. In fact, helping translate something vague like “aligning our values to True North” into something your team members can dig their teeth into – that most certainly is your job.

Besides, if you’re waiting around for your CEO spread the word, you’ll probably wait a long time. Given that most global CEO’s travel an average of 20 days a month, you need to fill in the gaps. You can’t wait around for one hyper-scheduled person to fulfil this important organizational need. Where do you even start? First, you need to determine how well your team understands the company’s overall goal, vision or mission. (Companies call it different things.)

Here are five things you can do to figure out how well your team “gets” what your company is about*.

  1. When you meet with your team members to discuss their quarterly/monthly goals, ask them: “How do these goals support the company mission?”
  2. Encourage your team to be proactive. Train them to ask, “What should I be doing to advance the company’s goals?”
  3. In department meetings be on the lookout for examples of employees who are able to see the bigger picture. Listen for phrases like, “Let’s step back a bit . . .” or “If we look at this from an overall view of what’s best for the company. . .” That’s a good sign that they understand the overall company goals.
  4. Watch for signs of “silo” thinking – an employee who makes a suggestion that clearly benefits your department, but isn’t in the best interest of other departments or the company as a whole. And, keep in mind that these types of suggestions oftentimes are well-intentioned—most people are actively trying to sabotage another department—but they haven’t considered others’ points of view.
  5. Be especially aware when cost-cutting measures are suggested. Yes, companies are under immense pressure to be profitable. At the same time, many ideas to trim expenses are short-term in nature and don’t take into account the overall organizational goals.

If, after working with your team it’s clear that they don’t quite “see” the company vision, then you’ve got some explaining to do. Oftentimes, it’s a matter of taking a high-concept statement and translating it into Everyday Person Speak. Here are some tips on how to interpret your organization’s vision for your team.


*I’m making a huge assumption here: this post is only useful if a) your company has a mission and b) you buy into it. If those two conditions don’t exist, then you’ve got a different problem and these suggestions won’t help you one bit.

Want more useful articles like this one to help you lead yourself and others to career success? Subscribe to my quarterly newsletter, The People Equation, for tips, book reviews and advice for being a savvy workplace professional.

Copyright: iqoncept / 123RF Stock Photo

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