Linking Individuals to Vision
Leadership Skills Development Specialist
Everyone who works for an organisation, large or small, should know what the organisation is there to achieve and how they contribute to moving the business forward. Yet still, many employees and line managers are not consistent in understanding their business aspiration and how they or their team fit in.
It is the role of the business leaders to set and communicate clearly and consistently the vision, aim and or purpose of the business and for all line managers to promote the vision and purpose as well as connect all people paid or volunteering to that vision or purpose.
A vision is a simple, inspiring, believable and motivational statement of what the company wants to be or to achieve in the future. Many examples tend to be five years or longer and some have remained the same since the company was established. For example, Walt Disney went to America to make people happy. Today, the vision of Disney is “To make people happy.” Ben and Jerry’s have “Making the best possible ice cream in the nicest possible way” and Amazon has “To be the world’s most customer-centric company.” I worked with a small local charity group using film making to help young disadvantaged people learn new skills and knowledge and they came up with “Telling untold stories from unheard voices.” A vision should be simple (Ideally ten words or less), inspiring, believable and motivational.
A mission or mission statement describes why a company exists and the purpose it serves. It is a sentence, or at worse, a short paragraph of one to three sentences. It outlines what the company does, or who it serves and how it differentiates from other similar companies. This in turn provides clear direction, inspiration and focus to all involved with the company. This then informs customers what to expect from the company. Often, a mission statement forms part of the business strategy. Example mission statements include LinkedIn which has “The mission of LinkedIn is simple: connect the world’s professionals to make them more productive and successful.” And Loreal’s mission statement is 2To provide the best in cosmetics innovation to women and men around the world with respect for their diversity.”. Finally, a small Northamptonshire arts community team have a mission “To create greater community and improve lives through the development of community’s artistic talents.”
Often, some companies mix of merge vision and mission. Some state they have a purpose or aim. The key point is to have clarity in direction, intent and purpose that all involved buy in to.
Strategic goals are four to six high level statements that identify what is critical or essential within your business strategy that you want to achieve. This is over a certain time period, typically some three to five years. They are not SMART based but descriptions of the longer term aspirations. Theses typically may well describe a particular market you want to move or expand in to, the development of a new product or service, how you wish to grow and develop your inhouse talent or develop a new approach to customer service relevant to future aspirations. It is from these that you then develop your strategic or functional goals and your strategy for achieving your goals.
Once you have established your strategic goals (what it is you want to achieve), you can then develop how you will achieve each goal. A strategic plan is not the same as a business plan. A strategic plan is normally focused on the mid to long term goals and outlines the basic strategies in how you will strive to achieve them. A business plan however, concentrates on the short and mid term objectives or goals, clarifying the key steps needed to achieve them. A strategic plan and a business plan are action plans. They are your road map to an unknown and changeable future. You can of course make best guesses with your combined experience and internal and external data but none the less, your plans need to be reviewed and revised where necessary. They are not set in stone. A strategic plan is a simple and rough and ready process of thinking through what it would take to achieve what you want and then reviewing what would be realistic to try.
Vision, mission, strategic goals and strategic planning are common themes that run through many organisations – large or small. What really makes businesses different, and pretty much defines the culture, are values and behaviour. Company values are what guides the way you do business. They sum up what your business stands for, influences the organisational culture and drives how and why you do things. While business plans and strategies may change, the core values of a business will usually remain the same. Company values help businesses grow and evolve without losing focus on what is important to them. In a small business, if you are passionate about quality, professionalism and innovation, these perhaps should be the values you embed in your growing business and make sure all those who work for and with your business also believe in the same values. They define part of your unique brand. Values describe what you and the people in your business believe in. It is a key part of your business brand. The number of values are down to each business and they can be one word or a short definition. IKEA have the following four values: Leadership by example, Daring to be different, Togetherness and enthusiasm, Accept and delegate responsibility. Netflix also have four values – Judgement, courage, selflessness and inclusion. The final example is from when I worked at Channel 4. The three values were Do it first, Inspire Change and Make trouble. If you are not sure what your business values should be, ask people who work with you. Ask them what new people would need to believe in or value if they were to work in your business or team.
If values define the things we believe, behaviours describe the way we do things round here. They are the practical application of your values. Business values and business behaviours define the employee and therefore the business. Behaviours need descriptors. These allow managers to have initial discussions with new people or ongoing discussions to clarify, agree and give examples of behaviours expected using those descriptors in their day to day work. An example of a value and its description could be a defined behaviour of Communication. The description of acceptable communication knowledge and skills from an individual would be “Effective employees are excellent communicators. They actively listen, they respond by summarising for clarity (not reacting) and they are clear in their appropriate use of language. They encourage others and are crystal clear in their explanations and communication. They don’t waste other people’s time.” People behave as you allow them. Without definitions and discussion it will become subjective.
Depending on the size, structure and design of the business, some may well set functional objectives and business plans for separate parts of the business. These would typically be SMARTER based (Specific, Measurable, Agreed, Realistic, Timed, Environmental and Reviewable). These would be directly linked or cross referenced to the strategic goals. It is what each function will achieve over the next one to three years and how they will make it happen along with how this will be monitored and measured including who is responsible for what. These too may well include budgets or financial allocation as well as financial or income targets. An example objective for a retailer with in house restaurants could be “To increase customer per head spend by 16% per person by April 2021 from a current spend of £18 to £21.”
These objectives are cascaded down to individual managers of each restaurant and adapted accordingly. One site may well be already achieving a customer per head spend of £21 so the target might be £24.50 with the 16% increase. Likewise, with another restaurant currently with £14 per head spend could be targeted around the 16% increase. That is why I prefer A as Agreed within the SMARTE format. It should be a discussion.
Individual SMARTER Objectives
The line manager or department objectives are then used to discuss and agree individual team member objectives for a period of time, again typically these would be over a twelve month period and reviewed on a regular basis as part of the regular one to one discussions. Continuing with the restaurant example, individuals would be allocated specific SMARTER based objectives, normally three to six, based on their role. The chef could have an objective to introducing new vegan ranges to help increase customer spend and that would be set as a SMARTER based objective. The lead waiter could be set objectives based on meeting the increased spend per head or training the front of house staff to confidently introduce complimentary items to each customer. Other SMARTER based objectives include “To communicate key carbon foot print reduction business success stories through appropriate press releases and sources to approved media partners within 24 hours of announcements by 31 August 2021.”, “To recommend an updated Housing Complaint Priority Assessment System that contributes to improving council response time to critical incidents from the current 15 days to resolution to 10 days resolution by 29 November 2021”.
Individual Behavioural Objectives
As an HR specialist, the most common issue with staff tends to be their attitude or behaviour. Not can or can’t they do the job. If not, we can train and coach them. Attitude and behaviour is a different challenge. If behaviour is unacceptable, we should be setting behavioural objectives. That is the expected standards of behaviour to be the norm by a point in time over the next few months. Yet all to often, on performance discussions, SMARTER objectives are set but not behavioural objectives. Behavioural objective setting has see, hear and feel at the heart of its approach. If you have unacceptable behaviour, you need to discuss what it is you have seen, heard stated or how you or others felt and give specific examples of those situations and actions. Once agreed that behaviour is unacceptable, you discuss what good behaviour is and again give examples of what you want to see, hear or feel consistently happening within the next few months. You of course offer support and coaching to help them get there. The written behavioural objective states the behaviour standard expected and around three specific positive examples. You only discuss the negatives but not record then unless a situation requires records for the future. If you have an individual who is not working well with the rest of the team, an example of a behavioural objective could be “Team Working: As from 4 January 2021, to consistently and positively support team objectives and colleagues when contributing to team meetings by actively listening to, understand and acknowledge other peoples point of view, respects other people’s ideas and positively offer suggestions to build on ideas or alternatives ideas to consider and proactively and consistently offer insights from own knowledge, skills and experiences to develop team understanding and capability.”
Role Knowledge and Skills
Once you have established SMARTER and behavioural objectives, all in line with contributing to the business goals and vision, you can then discuss new knowledge or skills needed to achieve the objectives. There are still people who discuss training needs as opposed to development needs. Not all knowledge or skills acquisition needs training. Your role is to discuss what can you learn that you did not know before and how can we do that and what can we get you to do that you could not do before and again, how can we make that happen? The development options are immense including shadowing, coaching, mentoring, delegation, secondments, reading, watching and so on. Of course, training is an option but only if it is appropriate and will give a ROI on that investment.
The above process is a guide to help make sure everyone in your organisation knows what the business is striving to achieve and how they contribute to the vision. They also know the support and development available and that is the role of the manager. For me, if I pay you money, permanent, contract or agency, you work for and represent my team so the model can be used for a team.
As a head of learning, we had our own team vision in line with the company vision, our own additional learning values and agreed definitions of how we should behave as a professional business unit.
Performance management is the role of the manager and remember, people behave as you allow them.
The Linking Individuals to Vision model has been developed by Alec McPhedran Chtd Fellow CIPD, Chtd Mngr CMI, MAC, MCMI as a tool for guiding m,anagers and leaders in how to connect people from their role to achieving the business vision.. Alec is the managing director of Skills Channel TV, the training company for busy creative people. He specialises in one to one coaching, facilitated learning, media training and team development. For further information, contact 0121 366 87 99 or visit www.skillschannel.tv.
Copyright © Alec McPhedran 2020
A trainer, coach and facilitator helping people acheive.