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Do your employees share your vision and purpose?

22 December, 2021
illustration of cityscape to help employees understand the vision and puspose of a business. "we make life flow, shaping a btter tomorrow by connecting people with water and energy" written on it.

Do your employees understand the organisation’s long-term vision and why it exists? Do you share the same goals? And are they emotionally connected to your purpose? These are vital considerations when it comes to putting your vision into practice. If your workforce isn’t behind you, it is a massive uphill struggle. Let’s look at vision and purpose separately and see why it’s so important that your workforce is on board with both – and what you can do to make them see how crucial their contribution is.

We’re all part of a bigger picture

Working in a large organisation is a bit like doing a jigsaw puzzle without the lid. We all know our individual pieces – and probably those immediately around us – but we can’t see the bigger picture and we don’t know how we fit in. Finding ways of showing your workforce how they fit within the organisation, and how this connects with customers and the direction of the business, is always tricky. However, communicating a clear picture of your vision and purpose is one of the most important things a leader must do.

Your vision needs to be visual

The clue is in the name. Even the words you use need to paint a vibrant, engaging picture of the kind of future you are aiming for. Better still, use actual images as well. They say a picture paints a thousand words – and how many of your employees have the time or inclination to sit and read 1000 words? You have to create an image that makes your long-term goals tangible in people’s minds. Your vision should also have a clear connection with the ever-changing needs of your customers and stakeholders. It should reflect the gap between where you are now and where you want to be.

Connecting employees to your vision

Someone once said, if you don’t know where you’re going, you’ll never get there. If your employees don’t see your organisation’s vision and the future you are aiming for, there is no impetus for them to work towards it. How can you get them to understand your vision for the future and make them as committed to it as you are?

  • Paint pictures with your words. Explain your great vision quickly, using clear, crisp, easy-to-understand language. Use metaphors, analogies and images to show the future you want to achieve and the journey to get there.
  • Link these to your initiatives. A long list of things to be done can be overwhelming so show your employees how the initiatives all fit together and explain how each one is a step towards achieving the end vision. Small steps are easier to digest.
  • Communicating your vision must be multi-directional. Involve everyone and get them talking – not just peer-to-peer but in mixed groups, managers to staff, staff to managers, and so on.

Above all, you need to make your vision seem enticing and achievable so that everyone in the organisation wants to achieve it. Your employees will then become the greatest ambassadors of your vision.

What is purpose?

Purpose is not the same as vision, goals or business strategies. Whereas you can achieve a goal or complete a strategy, you cannot complete a purpose. Purpose defines the role of your business in improving the world for your customers or end users. It should steer your people in the right direction at all times. While purpose itself does not change, it should inspire change. Of course, it’s easy for any organisation to adopt a feel-good purpose or a worthy, aspirational reason for being. Actually having the commitment to live and breathe that purpose is an infinitely larger task – but one that pays off substantially in the long run.

An emotional connection to your purpose

Why is this so important? Because if your employees don’t understand your purpose and feel an emotional connection, there is likely to be a conflict between your purpose and their own personal motivations. They need to believe in your purpose. When employees find meaning in the work they do, they are more likely to be engaged and, therefore, more productive. Your organisational purpose should be a story that explains how the company makes the world a better place for your customers or end users. It should explain how your employees contribute to this and how their efforts make a difference every day. This is then the basis for conversations at all levels about the direction and values of the organisation.

Make them believe

Just telling your staff what the organisation’s purpose is will not engage the majority. This is something they need to feel and believe. How you communicate it needs careful thought and planning.

  • Talk about what makes you care and why they should also care. Make your purpose statement less about ‘statement’ and more about ‘purpose’. Develop a compelling story that focuses on Why? Why now? What? How?
  • Communicating your purpose inevitably uses politically correct language, usually with all the latest buzzwords. Never forget, however, that your words must actually mean something. Don’t lose their meaning in populist jargon.
  • Usually, we are told to tell people the facts as logically as possible. When it comes to purpose, however, this misses the point. Getting people to believe in your purpose uses the emotional brain, not the logical one. Think warm and fuzzy – ideas that speak to people’s better nature. Show your employees how their work makes a difference – and the people who benefit from that. Appeal to their emotions.

Vision and purpose as part of your Big Picture

A thorough understanding and emotional buy-in with your organisation’s vision and purpose are essential in engaging your employees in your plans for the future. As leaders, you need to create powerful, visual images in people’s minds. This is precisely what The Big Picture People do. Using bespoke, interactive games and learning maps, we put your employees at the heart of your Big Picture, giving them the chance to explore the organisation’s purpose, your vision, and the part they play. We give them the lid to the jigsaw, if you like. Bespoke, specifically-tailored games are a fun, accessible way of getting across both complex and intangible messages. Games break down traditional barriers, encouraging interaction between people at all levels and creating a real buzz. To find out how your own unique, interactive game could create a better understanding of your vision and purpose, book a free 30-minute call.

 

 

If you enjoyed this article, you may also enjoy our ‘Engaging Internal Comms’ podcast episode S2 Ep 32 Vision, Purpose and Organisational Values.

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