How to Motivate Your Team When the Company Vision is Vague and General
A company vision is meant to energize, motivate and bring people together around common goals. But so often, company visions are vague and general.
As a leader, that makes it challenging to get your team to rally around.
For example, when I was first starting out in banking, we talked about our vision as, “To be the preeminent investment banking firm”. Of course, I wanted to be part of an organization that strove to be the best. But what did “preeminent” look, feel and sound like? And in whose opinion?
As a junior team member, this felt distant to me. Another reminder that I was umpteen layers removed from the lofty vision that some corporate consultant helped our executives create.
It was when my boss translated the company vision into a quote from our founder that it felt relatable: it was about doing “first-class business in a first-class way”.
Since my colleagues and I were out there calling on clients and doing business every day, this mantra was highly useful as a guiding light.
It was a reminder to choose wisely the client projects to take on – it needed to be “first-class business” and not something remotely sketchy even if it came with a big fee. And we were to execute for our clients with excellence: “in a first-class way”.
How you can align your team with the wider corporate vision
When it’s your turn to cascade the corporate vision down through your part of the organization, here are three questions to ask yourself.
They’ll help you feel confident you're taking the right steps to energize, motivate and engage your team with the company’s vision.
The first question is about starting with yourself.
Do you understand the vision?
What is senior leadership really trying to convey in the company vision statement? If your organization is big with many different business lines, the vision statement might sound vague and general. Like any number of businesses could adopt the same statement.
You might have to dig in beneath the “corporate speak” to understand the message in a way that resonates with you. To figure out where you and your business area show up in the vision. If you’re struggling, consider asking a trusted colleague for their perspective.
Once you “get the gist” of the message, that brings us to the next question.
Are you excited and motivated by the vision?
If you’re not moved by the vision, you’ll have a hard time getting your team members to rally around it.
As a leader, it’s draining to simply “go through the motions” because you’re told you have to. And when you do, your team members are likely to feel something rote is being jammed down their throats.
They’ll sense your lack of engagement, and that will transfer onto them. And if you’re artificially “rah-rah”, your team will see through that too and it may reduce your credibility with them.
This brings us to the third question.
How can you interpret the company vision statement into something relatable for you?
See if you can re-imagine the vision and restate it in a form that you can genuinely feel excited about.
Bring it down from 30,000 feet to ground level for you and your business area. Is there a “mantra” that might come from it, like “first-class business in a first-class way” from my banking days?
Only when you’re aligned with the vision can you get your team aligned as well.
As a leader, it’s your job to align your team with the company vision
As you do so, remember to ask yourself:
- Do I understand the vision myself? If you don’t have a good understanding, your team won’t either.
- Am I excited and motivated by the vision? Only when you’re moved by the vision can you transfer that excitement to your team.
- How can I restate the vision in a way that’s relatable and inspiring? Find a way to reimagine the vision that resonates with you and your team.
Which of these steps will make the biggest difference in getting your team excited and motivated with the company vision?
Leave a comment and let me know.