It’s a given in every work environment: an all-day sit-down involving managers and employees, muffins and coffee bought and paid for by the organization, maybe sandwiches for lunch, lots of words put to flip charts, talk, talk and more talk.
At the end of the day, a good bit of work might result in a number of value statements, a few goals for the future and perhaps even a sense of mission.
It is work that often, in the days following, gets shelved or worked from the corner of someone’s desk and moved forward at a snail’s pace. The rest of the organization goes back to regular chores, shaking heads, cynical and wondering about the day away from regular duties.
Try this right now. Turn to the employee closest to you — even if they’re blocks away sitting in their own home office —and ask that person if they can recite the organization’s vision and mission statements.
Vision and mission statements should be a big part of an organization’s culture.
- A vision statement is all about what the organization believes is possible. It is reflection on potential.
- A mission statement puts the vision into practice. It is the doing part. It is what the organization — its management team, employees and others — will do to bring the vision to reality.
Although often predisposed to outside influences, including trends set by other colleagues and competitors, and the general business climate, organizational beliefs and values are rationalizations for why and how an organization does what it does.
Coca-Cola’s stated mission, for example, is three-fold: To refresh the world. To inspire moments of optimism and happiness. To create value and make a difference. Some might argue that’s more of a vision statement, although if we look closer the mission does come through. Coca-Cola’s business is providing refreshment to the world; it does attempt to inspire moments of optimism and happiness. And, Coca-Cola would argue, it is creating value and making a difference.
Other less tangible principles, ethics and even views can also be espoused beliefs and values. These “norms” are often promoted in organizational literature and referred to in team meetings and other similar gatherings. Most team members will be aware of these beliefs and values and will act accordingly, hence their importance to organizational culture. And the team or workforce will often discuss, confirm — and even challenge — these beliefs and values.
(Organizational culture is what we teach — both formally and informally — to new members — employees, etc. — as the correct way to perceive, think, and feel about the organization and how to interact with others in the workplace.)
Have a chat with your team about its mission and vision. Ask them to share what they see as organizational beliefs and values.
The values will come easy: an environmental consciousness, making health and safety a priority, being friendly, courteous and helpful. Employees likely will also value integrity and honesty. The beliefs will be a little more difficult. There will likely be a sense the organization is important and makes a difference. But expect to also hear few outside the organization understand what it does.
That’s a conversation-starter for improving your communications strategy. First, though, work is required internally.
It might be time for a communications audit — a process by which your senior team can develop a deeper understanding of your organization: its structure, performance and reputation. It’s also a great way to rediscover your organization’s conscience and adjust course.
You can read more about that process on our website. And, if the idea holds some intrigue for you, please feel free to contact me at your convenience. Our team will examine your organization’s internal environment, helping to define its structure and ethical base, reviewing its performance and detailing internal impediments that might be keeping you from effectively communicating with others. We’ll develop a sense of the public’s perception of your organization and, more importantly, your reputation.
Yes, it involves a bit of sit-down, lots of words put to flip charts, talk, talk and more talk.
This time, though, you’ll find the effort was worth the energy.