By Maureen Kanwischer
Momentum Business Consulting
One of the most frequent issues business owners deal with is how to get your employees to care as much about your business as you do. First, let’s get real and admit that most employees never will be as invested as you are – and they shouldn’t be. However, there are some simple things you can do to help get your employees more vested in your strategic plans. These do not require a lot of money to implement, but they do require conviction from you and constant reminders.
One key area is to author, publish and distribute your company’s mission statement, vision statement and value statement. These three tools serve many functions, not the least helping to provide a framework for your company’s strategy. These are living documents that can be treated as guides to how to do business at your company. No matter how many employees you have, these statements can be valuable tools in achieving your goals. They provide answers to the questions of: “Why?”, “Where?”, and “How?”
To refresh or clarify what these Mission, Vision and Value (MVV) statements are, here is a brief definition:
Mission Statement: Your mission statement should be a brief (two or three sentences) describing the purpose of your business. Why are you in business?
Vision Statement: A short statement about what your business wants to become. It might stretch the organization’s current capabilities and it should be developed with the intent to give shape and direction to the organization’s future. It can also be thought of as a written visualization of what you want the company to be. A vision statement can be longer than a mission statement, but still short enough that it is digestible. Vision statements are usually in place for five to 10 years. Where do you want your business to be in five or 10 years?
Value Statement: Your value statement should represent the core principles of your company. They are often used as a guide to making decisions or to drive behavior. A value statement can reflect the traits of your company and set priorities within the organization. They should include values for internal (employees) and external (customers, vendors) audiences. Value statements can be several paragraphs long or can contain bulleted points listing your company’s values. How will you conduct business at your company?
Do Your Employees Follow Suit?
The key to getting buy in from your employees is to make sure that they are aligned with your company’s strategies. You might be thinking: “Duh!” But remember, your strategy might be very clear in your mind or in a few of your key managers’, but don’t take for granted that the knowledge is completed understood by all employees.
To illustrate these concepts, let’s use a fictitious custom software development company called CSD as an example. CSD’s products and services are high end, intricate, comprehensive, one of a kind software programs. In very simplistic terms, CSD’s strategy is to provide personalized technical service at every stage of development and a commitment to producing quality programs on time. CSD’s strategy is not to be the lowest priced software development firm, but rather, to provide robust products on time.
First, your employees need to understand how their work fits into the overall success of the company. They should be aware of the basics of business so they can see how executing the strategy will make them better off. This will help them stick to the plan. At CSD, adhering to the project schedule is paramount to delivering the software on time. This might seem like a no-brainer for the programmers, but what if there is a critical tool needed by the developers to complete a task? The purchasing agent, in a seemingly unrelated role, also needs to understand the strategy and drive their actions to support it.
Second, all employees must thoroughly understand the strategy. It is worth it to spend time explaining your strategy and allowing your employees to ask “why we are doing it that way?” Some employees may act against your strategy without realizing the harm. At CSD, a sales rep may offer free upgrades; thinking that the strategy is to offer comprehensive service, without realizing that anything that is given away for free is incongruent with the strategy of not competing based on price.
Lastly, to gain strategic alignment with all employees, the organization must be structured so it supports the strategy including the structure of individual jobs. Employees who are hired, trained and compensated with keen attention to supporting the strategy will perform according to strategy. At CSD, the work performed requires up-to-date technical knowledge. They recently hired a project manager who excels at project management, but is unfamiliar with the technology used at CSD. Although the hire was well qualified, without the technical knowledge, they will fail at executing the technical service that is a key component of CSD’s strategy. Not only will the strategy suffer due to that particular employee, but will hinder other aligned employees’ ability to execute the strategy.
Pulling It All Together
Implementing your company’s strategy is not a one time effort. It is a constant effort applied to all aspects of the business. When in question of whether an idea or a behavior is consistent with your strategy, refer back to the MVV statements to make sure it is aligned with why you are in business, where you want the business to go and how you will conduct business. Make the time to allow all employees to learn and grasp your strategy and understand the important role their work plays in the success of the organization. If you have an employee who does not perform according to strategy, verify that the lack of buy-in does not stem from a valid point, and then remove that person from the organization as to not hamper both the individual’s and the rest of the team’s success. Hire, train and compensate employees with the strategy in mind.
To get employees’ buy-in is as much of your responsibility as it is their’s. Share your strategy with conviction and be sure to always include your mission, vision and values as your underlying strategy. These guide lines will provide your employees with a reason to buy into and execute your strategy.
Feel free to publish this article to your own site as long as you give credit: Maureen Kanwischer of Momemtum Business Consulting and link to my website: www.momentumbc.com. Thank you.