Managing Employees

How to Establish a Vision Statement Employees Will Get Behind

How to Establish a Vision Statement Employees Will Get Behind
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Entrepreneur; CEO and Co-Founder, ClearCompany
4 min read
Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Most companies have a clearly defined mission statement, but it’s the vision statement that employees cling onto. Whereas mission statements explain a company’s reason for existence, a vision statement describes where the company is going and how they’re going to get there.

To paint a better picture, here are the mission and vision statements we work by at ClearCompany:

Our mission: We exist to help companies achieve their vision. We believe business transparency, especially when it comes to talent management, is the key to success in today’s knowledge-based and innovation-driven environment.

Our vision: Through integrated recruiting, onboarding and performance centered around goals, we give every single person in a company -- from the CEO to the newest hire -- the ability to simplify their workflow, align their work plans and access the insights gleaned from analytics that can only be found on a single talent platform. Our tools will allow our clients to start a cycle of continuous talent improvement in their organizations. By leveraging the cloud, we can make incredible tools accessible to every company who values growth and transparency.

Related: It's Your Vision: Help Them See It

In short, a company’s vision statement should aim to do more than just inform -- that’s what the mission statement is for. A vision statement is intended to inspire, motivate and align employees. Ours focuses on both the current and future benefits of our product, allowing employees to stay engaged with both what we do now and where we’re headed.

Here are four tips to keep in mind when trying to develop a vision statement employees will get behind:

1. Establish a direction.

A mission statement is focused on the present, while a vision statement looks ahead into the future. To establish a solid direction when crafting the company’s vision statement, start by asking questions such as:

  • Where do we see ourselves in five years, and how are we going to get there?
  • What problems do we hope to solve in the next few years?
  • What do we hope to achieve?

Questions that ask who, what, when, where and why help shape the vision statement and ensure that the vision is relevant, timely and realistic.

2. Be specific.

After brainstorming and establishing a solid direction, the next step is to create more actionable items within the vision statement. The vision statement should be aspirational by laying out the company’s primary goals. Most important, the goals outlined in the vision statement should be specific so that employees can easily remember them and align them with their daily activities.

Related: 3 Things Shared by Top Performing Teams, Whether on the Field or in the Office

Rule(s) of thumb:

  • Use clear, concise language.
  • Use present tense.
  • Project five years in the future.
  • Use inspirational language.
  • Be brief and memorable.

3. Align the vision.

Arguably the most important aspect of a vision statement is its ability to align not only with the company mission and values, but with employees’ individual goals. Aim to develop a vision statement that employees can easily translate into actions in their daily work routine. One way to do this is to create a vision statement that is relevant to the company’s workforce.  

While a vision statement should be specific, it should also be broad enough to encompass a variety of employees. Being specific and relevant can make a vision statement impactful, but it’s of little worth if it’s not actively communicated.  

4. Communicate that vision.

To properly align individual goals to those in the company, employees need to know, understand and adopt the company vision. Unfortunately, a 2012 Gallup survey of more than 3,000 workers revealed that only 41 percent of employees strongly agreed that they know what their company stands for and what differentiates it from competitors.  

The key to company-wide alignment is communication. Communicating the vision and updating employees when that vision changes (and it will) is essential to creating an aligned workforce and driving overall success. So how do you make that vision stick?

Start by keeping employees informed and up to date. Connect the company’s vision statement to various tasks and projects whenever possible. Additionally, have the communication come from all leaders. This ensures that the company vision is at the forefront of everyone’s minds and work.

Related: Mediocrity or Greatness? That Is the Question.

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