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I’m sure you’ve read about the importance of having company values and a mission statement or vision. but why is it important and how do you create them When I started my business with one client and a few employees, I didn’t have the structure I needed. But as we grew and added more customers and employees, I realized the importance of having a roadmap so everyone is on the same page. I might have had a vision in my head of where I thought we were going, but I needed to share that vision and also get input from my team on where it wanted to go.
Think about what you want and don’t want
After I hired a few key executives, we got together as a group and did a lot of brainstorming. We thought about everything we wanted to be and what we didn’t want to be. We looked at our employees and our customers, people we admired and looked up to, and tried to reverse engineer their characteristics (can you tell I’m passionate about reverse engineering?). We agreed that we wanted to be more like that, “and we wanted to work with clients who were more like that.” We used these to create our values. Why didn’t we enjoy working with certain people? Because they were jerks – hence one of our four core values ”Make it funny, don’t be a jerk”.
Once we formulated our mission and core values, we put in place a system to ensure those values became part of our workplace culture. We created a Slack channel to recognize people who live these values. Anyone can publicly acknowledge others by praising them for something they have done. Then, at our bi-weekly company-wide meetings, we select a few nominees and present them with a financial award. I used to think mission, values and vision were just things they teach business school, but it’s real and I’ve seen the positive impact it’s had on our company.
See Also: Five Top Tips for Creating Mission and Vision Statements With Meaning
I was an SEO professional but didn’t have much experience as the CEO of a fast-growing company. It was at this point that I decided to work with a coach, who recommended that I develop a “living vision,” something that outlines where I see myself and the company in three years. He recommended that I go somewhere that inspires me, to just sit there and try to put the vision I had in my head on paper. I chose a nice hotel in Beverly Hills.
I spent the afternoon sitting in a nice coffee shop where they had a piano player, beautiful paintings on the walls, people walking in and out, and nice cars pulling up. It inspired me and I created three bulleted pages. I used adjectives that describe the specific details of what each part of the vision looked like. Creating a living vision doesn’t have to be a whole book – just write a few bullet points of your dreams and goals. Describe in detail what the office looks like, how many people you employ, your turnover and maybe even the awards you have received. The point is to create a picture for the rest of your employees so they can envision the future the same way you do. That way everyone is aligned and clear about where you are going as a company.
See Also: The Key to Finding Your Company’s Mission? It’s in your “also”.
Make the dream come true
After my time at the café, I called our communications director to discuss what I had come up with and then she wrote it into our living vision story. The mission and values were created with the leadership team. The vision was something I, as CEO, had to develop myself. It is written in the present tense in three years, as if it were already finished. We decided on a three year vision as 5-10 years seemed too far in the future to be realistic. From here it went to our creative team to bring it to life with graphics and images. Once it was visually brought to life, our engineering team turned it into a web page for everyone to see on our website. This includes our employees, our customers, our bankers and our competitors. We’re radically transparent and we’re very clear about where we’re going,
Related: How to engage employees through your mission statement
We created our living vision just last year, and already there are aspects of the vision that are coming to fruition. I think there’s a lot to be said for intentionally deciding direction and then just watching the manifestation happen. When everyone starts to understand where we’re going, it starts happening. As CEO, I couldn’t possibly do everything on my own, but I can bring the vision to the team and work with them to make that vision a reality.
We have our vision for the next three years. We will not change or lower our expectations if we miss a target. We have set ourselves high goals and will work to meet or exceed these goals. We also review our vision quarterly. We like to do this at our Leadership Retreat where we get high level reports on how things are going.
If you haven’t yet formulated a mission or vision for your company, it might be time to take action. If you think it’s just something for big companies or just something they talk about in business school, I hope my experience can help change that perception. A clear vision and a specific mission help define the purpose of the organization. It ensures you’re working towards the right goals and helps you direct resources to the right place. When everyone is working toward the same goal, productivity increases. It gives employees a sense of unity. When employees understand the vision, it motivates them to work hard to achieve the set goals. It takes some time to put together, but the results are more than worth it. I don’t think I’ve ever worked at another company that has a better culture because of the way we originally structured our vision and mission.
See also: 4 Essentials to Make Your Business Mission a Success