Ever since Klaus Schwab proclaimed the 4th Industrial Revolution at the World Economic Forum in 2017, everyone is speaking about change. Through the rapid pace of technological development, some proven business model is changing. Managing directors have poor chances for a successful future, if they are not concerned with what technological progress and globalization mean for their business. Surprisingly, this is one of the oldest and essential formulas for the implementation of the change process within an organization.
From my point of view, you can’t say it better than the French writer Antoine de Saint-Exupéry did:
“If you want to build a ship, don’t drum up the men to gather wood, divide the work, and give orders. Instead, teach them to yearn for the vast and endless sea.”
At the beginning of every change there is the realization that it is necessary. In the business world, the triggers are e.g. innovation, market opportunities, economic pressure, company acquisitions, succession planning, outdated business models and many more. An important part has already been completed, once the knowledge and the will to change are present in the management and the new vision and mission have been defined. In larger organizations, however, the difficult part has only just begun: the crew’s “swearing in” to the new mission.
In my 20 years as a consultant to companies in digital transformation, I have already seen and read some beautiful PowerPoint presentations or posters on “Vision, Mission and Values”. I have always wondered what these polished sentences and terms mean for the individual employee. I have become accustomed to directly asking employees during my visits to customers whether they know the company’s vision, mission and values. Most of the time these employees look at me with big eyes and dare a few embarrassing attempts. Unfortunately, there is not much inspiration or motivation to be felt. A somewhat drastic analogy would be if soldiers in battle didn’t know what they were fighting for.
Studies such as Gallup’s “State of the Global Workplace” today show that employees who can combine the corporate vision with their daily work have a much greater commitment because they see the sense and benefit of their performance. This connection is not accidental but occurs through targeted strategic communication.
Putting up glossy posters of the company mission statement is therefore not enough to motivate employees. It must be complemented with an agile internal communication: communicate, measure, learn.
Most of the content should relate to the company values. That applies to company news, blog posts, stories, check lists, events, etc. Is this contribution linked to the vision or to a specific company value? This simple measure alone can fill the polished phrases from the mission statement with life.
How do employees experience the company values? Are they simple catchphrases or do they truly experience them? Regularly collecting feedback about the various elements of the mission statement shows how authentic and harmonious the organisation is. Authenticity, in turn, has a direct effect on client success.
Any steps for improvement can be defined using the collected data and feedback. It can teach the organisation for which elements some action needs to be taken, who the cultural ambassadors are and how the organisation compares to others (benchmark).
Motivated and engaged employees are the key to happy customers, innovation and, finally, success. The concept of ‘lean communication’ - communicate, measure, learn - is an approach to get the whole organisation to commit to a shared goal. This concept is rooted deep within the DNA of ahead and takes strategic communication to the next level.