According to a March 18 article published on accountingweb.com, less than half of workers are committed to their organization’s goals. The article gave a synopsis of a huge research project undertaken by FrankinCovey (the statistics provided herein are taken from that research).
One of the things necessary for organizational effectiveness is getting everyone pointed in the same direction. When people are aware of organizational objectives, and management openly aligns department / work center goals with those objectives, people know where to put their energy. The resulting synergy can be fantastic.
Sadly, the FranklinCovey survey indicates that only 15% of workers could actually identify their organization’s top three goals.
Just as sad, only 22% of workers are enthusiastic about goals they set within their work teams. More ouch. Of course, companies have to move beyond just setting goals. As a wise businessman told me when I was starting my working career, “Your plans will not work – you have to work your plans.” But even that is impossible when more than half of workers say that their team’s goals are not translated into individual work goals.
From a management perspective, maybe it’s time to re-examine how we’re communicating organizational goals. Let’s review this in three steps:
Vision and Mission Statement
Overplayed and hyped in some people’s minds, these statements are still vital to success. As Yogi Berra once said, “If you don’t know where you’re going, you might wind up someplace else."
Many folks get confused about vision and mission, so here’s an easy way to define them:
- Vision Statement: Where you want to be.
- Mission Statement: How you want to get there.
For example, the vision statement at Leadership Development is “To be ranked among the five best companies in the field of Human Resource Development.” That’s where we want to be—it’s not what we do. Our mission statement defines what we do: “Enhance and refine management and leadership skills for greater productivity, effectiveness, and profitability.” In other words, by doing our mission well, we work toward achieving our vision.
One problem with these necessary ingredients is that they’re often too long. I’ve seen mission statements that are two pages long! How in the world will any employee remember their mission if it’s two pages long? Keep your vision and mission short and to the point. It helps people remember them.
Companies don’t openly publish their strategic plans and goals to the general public. They just create them and enact them. Unfortunately, management also often neglects to communicate corporate direction to the rank and file. This is one of the problems identified by FranklinCovey: When people don’t know the key points of their company’s plan, they don’t understand how what they’re doing affects the bottom line. If management wants better enthusiasm and buy-in, they need to publicize company goals to the employees.
Did you know that everything in life can be explained with circles, squares, and triangles? Here’s a tip from our Goal Setting workshop that many of our clients use successfully: Post an image of a triangle. Draw two horizontal lines to create three layers within the triangle, so each layer is of equal height. In the point (at the top of the triangle) write in your company mission and vision statements. In the second layer, write in organizational goals, separating each goal with a vertical line. Then involve your rank and file by asking them for ideas on how to best reach those goals. Those ideas get written in to the lower level, at the base of the triangle.
You’ll probably want to note that not all ideas may be possible to implement, but this is an easy, practical way to gain buy in and enthusiasm for company goals. The ripple-effect can be phenomenal.
Don’t believe this has power? Give it a try. Then email me and let me know how it worked. If the majority of your workers can identify your company goals, you’ll be well on your way to building commitment and passion—which are key internal performance indicators for long-term, sustainable growth.