Growing up in Minnesota, a.k.a. the Land of 10,000 Lakes, a fair amount of my childhood was spent on the water. We’d go swimming, boating, and my favorite – canoeing. As a kid, I’d jump in the canoe and take a seat; as the youngest, I was often seated in the middle of the canoe. While this position didn’t require that I paddle, my enthusiasm had me do so anyway as I wanted to participate in our progress. As a youngster, I wasn’t always focused and at times, I was rowing in the opposite direction! My energy was being wasted instead of moving our boat forward. I was dragging my team down because my efforts were not aligned with where we were going.
While this sounds like a silly childhood story, it is metaphoric to business as well. Every person in your organization has paddling to do, and if they aren’t all rowing in the same direction, the boat cannot move forward effectively or maximize its velocity. Your Vision tells your employees where they’re going and how they are going to get there. It is the leadership team’s job to share your Vision with everyone in the company until they “get it.” In EOS® we call this “Shared by All.” Once you’ve fully succeeded in having your Vision “Shared by All,” your employees will be rowing in the same direction and your boat (company) will be speeding across the lake. It will be clear to everyone where you’ve been, where you are, and where you are going.
Sharing the Vision
In EOS we repeatedly say that people need to hear something seven times before they hear it the first time. This is especially true for your company Vision; share it consistently every 90 days in your State of the Company address and don’t get discouraged if not everyone grasps it immediately. If you’ve never shared your company vision before, please start now – otherwise your canoe will be spinning in circles! There’s a big difference between your vision being shared WITH all and being Shared BY all. Many teams have heated debates during their annual session regarding this distinction. Patrick Lencioni says it best in The Five Dysfunctions of a Team, “If you could get all the people in an organization rowing in the same direction, you could dominate any industry, in any market, against any competition, at any time.”
How do you move from being Shared WITH all to Shared BY all? You can begin here:
1. Start the “Shared by All” process by having an employee-wide meeting where you share the V/TO™, give “The Core Values Speech” and allow everyone the opportunity to ask questions and participate to understand each part of your Vision.
2. Share your Vision every 90 days during your State of the Company address. Reinforce your vision by sharing where you’ve been, where you are, and where you’re going.
3. Review your V/TO™ at every Quarterly session. Do this at the leadership and departmental levels.
4. Continue to welcome questions from employees. This is important to ensure they’ll fully buy in (or realize this is not a Vision and company that fits for them).
5. On a daily, weekly, and monthly basis, check in with your team and ask about different parts of the V/TO. Your V/TO is a living document serving as the basis for guiding what we do and correcting when we’re off track – individually, departmentally and collectively.
Simply put, your employees can’t share the vision if they don’t know what it is. You must consistently tell them, keeping your canoe on track to glide easily across the lake. Understanding the Vision will help employees clearly see the connection between their jobs and the larger company goals, which is both motivating and affirming. Those who don’t share the Vision will self-select out of your company or they will stand out so much you must make the appropriate decision. Sharing the Vision with new employees during on-boarding will ensure their first of seven times hearing it starts right away.
Real Life Examples
In addition to verbally sharing your Vision every quarter, it can be most valuable when you and your team get creative in presenting other ways to reach “Shared by All.” This helps anchor your message even more with employees and is also a fun way to reflect your company culture. Here are examples of ways some clients have shared their Vision:
- Give every employee a tee shirt with the 10-Year Target™ written on the back. They proudly wear them to team meetings as a reminder of where they are going. They also ask employees to share stories and examples of progress made toward the target.
- Recognizing Core Values in every Level 10 Meeting™. During the Level 10, each person must recognize someone else and share how they demonstrated a Core Value that week.
- Posting the V/TO in the break room. This provides the perfect reading fodder while waiting for your lunch to heat up in the microwave!
- Core Values sticks. Each employee has an empty jar on top of their cubicle, and when they exemplify a Core Value one of the Core Values sticks is put in their jar for all to see. The employees recognize each other, which is valuable well beyond the leadership team’s efforts.
Whatever you decide to do to share your Vision, make sure it represents your company culture and is easy for employees to engage with.
Having your Vision “Shared by All” is one of the most important parts of running your business on EOS. Employees need to understand where the company is going in order to best align their efforts and focus their energy forward. Additionally, everyone will make better decisions on their own because they understand the company Core Values, Core Focus™, long and short term plans, your Marketing Strategy and our priorities for the next 90 days. Over time, this means you and your leadership team will spend less time course-correcting and more time focused on your highest and best use. Consistently share your Vision and assess every quarter how close you are to achieving “Shared by All.”
You’ll know an employee shares your Vision when they understand it, they want to be a part of it and their actions perpetuate it on a daily basis. The power of having everyone in your company rowing in the same direction cannot be understated. It will allow you to grow, dominate your field, and maybe even canoe gracefully down the mighty Mississippi River.
- Watch EOS Founder Gino Wickman describe the 8 Questions Your Leadership Team Should Answer to help you clarify your company vision
- Download a free chapter of How to Be a Great Boss by Gino Wickman and René Boer to learn how to be a more effective leader and manager.
- Take the Organizational Checkup™ to get a picture of your company’s strengths and weaknesses, along with a roadmap for improvement.