When 3dcart, a Fort Lauderdale-based ecommerce company, started out, the team was so small, there was no reason to write a formal company vision. Everyone understood the goal and all were able to unite behind it. However, by the time the company had grown to 40 employees, it was clear that newer employees might not have the same appreciation for that founding vision.
The time had come for an official vision statement.
“Our first attempt at a vision statement was simply defined by upper management and communicated to the employees,” 3dcart’s COO, Jimmy Rodriguez, told me via email. “We thought this was all that was needed.”
The statement did little, however, to change the company culture or to motivate employees, Rodriguez said. On the company’s second attempt, the realization became clear that leadership needed input from employees at all levels for everyone to feel invested.
“The current 3dcart vision was developed two years ago, and while most of the team we have today participated in the process, the challenge is to get new hires to become part of it,” Rodriguez said.
This is a problem many organizations are facing. So, here are four ways to keep your employees engaged with and excited about your company vision:
1. Start with the hiring process.
Omowale Casselle, co-founder and CEO of Chicago-based Digital Adventures, knew he needed to find employees who aligned with the company vision. Through its studios, Digital Adventures helps teach kids about technology and coding. So, clearly, anyone who comes on board needs to have a passion for empowering young people.
“Our vision is to develop, within the next generation, computer coding and engineering skills that are key to solving difficult problems and making an impact in our digitally driven world,” Casselle said via email.
According to Casselle, this process starts with the interview process. By asking candidates why they’re excited by the company's core idea, he can see how genuine they are about the company’s vision.
“Candidates who share responses along the lines of, ‘I love seeing a-ha moments’ [and] 'There is nothing kids can't accomplish if they set their mind to it,’ or ‘The future is bright for the next generation,’ pass to the next screening step," said Casselle.
Tools like PurposeMatch can help reveal to organizations job-seekers’ true passions and motivations. While this technology was designed for students, companies can also take advantage of PurposeMatch to find employees who will align with their company vision.
Teach them early.
As the talent acquisition manager of Santa Barbara, Calif.-based Ontraport, Sara Hetyonk works to instill the foundation of the company vision from Day 1. “We get people aligned with our vision through our new-hire training class,” she said in an email. “It’s one week of extended classroom-style training, where all new employees learn about the company, product, culture, clients and the entrepreneurial story of our CEO, Landon Ray. In fact, he shares this directly with all the new hires.”
This extended introduction gives new hires a clear understanding of what, by joining Ontraport's team, they’ve decided to work toward. New hires also hear testimonials from their clients, Hetyonk said. That way, they can see how important customer support is to the organization.
Get back to basics.
As a company grows, it’s easy for its vision to get complicated. New ideas and changes to the industry become distractions. Instead of focusing on the company vision, employees and leaders may react in a way that takes them off their path.
To stay on track at your own company, start by taking the time to get back to basics regarding the company’s vision. Take for example, what Lucid Software, a diagramming and visual communication tech company based in Salt Lake City, does to keep its vision alive: Lucid Software’s vision statement is, “A world where clarity and thought of communication is no longer a barrier to the speed of innovation.”
As a tech company, this means that Lucid needs to be on top of the latest trends and changes. So, to keep its employees from becoming distracted, once a year it has a company trip that focuses on the original form of communication: face-to-face communication.
“All 300-plus employees leave their laptops and email behind, get on a bus and spend close to a week out in the Utah mountains reconnecting with one another, collaborating on how to solve problems and exploring new projects we can pursue together,” Teija Springman, the director of people operations, said via email.
This annual trip is a chance for all team members to discuss the direction of the organization and determine whether or not the work they’re doing supports the overall vision. This way, employees have a chance to refocus and reunite.