If you are leading a business or organization, especially through difficult times, and you don’t have a clear vision and purpose established for it, you’re setting yourself up for failure, or at the very least marginal performance. Let’s say you do have a clear vision and purpose for your team or business. If these things haven’t been communicated to your employees in such a manner that everyone understands where the business is today, where it’s going, the obstacles standing in the way, and the role they play in all of this, your vision and purpose are pretty much useless. This is why so many organizations, companies, and business units struggle. They have neither a vision nor a purpose, OR nobody understands them or even knows they exist. (On a side note, if your business’s purpose is only to “make money”, you seriously need to re-think that. Purpose-driven businesses consistently outperform capital-driven businesses.) Many business leaders walk around in a bubble thinking that just because the leadership team has a clear picture of these things that everyone else in the organization does as well. You think that just because your lead team is bought in and you have directed them to pass this information down, that this actually takes place. Sometimes it does. But what happens most often is that the message that ultimately reaches your line employees doesn’t look anything like what was intended, or it was simply executive level “finance speak” passed down that doesn’t translate into operational reality and goes largely ignored by your employee base. If you’re the president of the business unit, let’s say, and you clearly outline the goals and plans and purpose of the business for your four vice-presidents, instructing them to deliver that message to their organizations, what you will get are four different interpretations of what you communicated to them. That or the communication down the chain that you end up with will be nothing more than some forwarded PowerPoint slide or email that you authored. It’s not a failure on the part of your VP team. It’s simply human nature. I’m not saying that you shouldn’t tailor the communication style so the message is relevant to different types of operations or business units. In fact, that’s exactly what you should do. What I am saying is that if your vision and purpose communication plan consists of forwarding an email and telling your lead team to “pass this along”, it will accomplish nothing.
So what do you do? How do you go about making this happen if you don’t have the skillset in-house to handle it? You have three options: 1) You try to find someone in your organization with the skillset to develop a good communication plan and messaging. 2) You hire someone with that skillset. 3) You hire a consultant to develop the plan and messaging and assist in its execution, preferably someone who knows your business or industry. All three are perfectly viable options. If you use a consultant, hire one that is going to take the time to meet with you and members of your team and even spend some time with employees at varying levels to understand your business and its culture. A consultant simply throwing together some canned words and a generic communication timeline on a spreadsheet isn’t going to serve you any better than doing it yourself now. Both your vision and purpose for your company or business unit are important, critical, in fact. Treat them as such by taking the time to develop a plan to develop them and communicate them effectively to every employee on your team.