During the next couple of weeks, executives at hundreds of thousands of organizations around the world will be getting together to review their past year’s performance and to make plans for the coming year. Many will make a common mistake during the planning process that will greatly reduce the amount of alignment and buy-in they receive from employees within their respective companies. Instead of including employees in the planning process, they will decide to discuss planning behind closed doors and “announce” the new direction at the next all-hands meeting.
The result will be an excited group of executives leading a detached group of employees according to corporate visioning expert Jesse Stoner. In a new article entitled Creating A Vision Statement That Works Stoner explains, “If you want the entire organization to be as excited about the vision as the senior leaders, you have to involve them, allow them to put their thumbprint on it, and have shared ownership. The people who create the vision understand it and own it because it is in their hearts and minds.”
According to Stoner, anytime a leader—or a group of leaders—develops a vision independently and then announces it to the organization, it almost always ends badly. Yet it happens more often than not because leaders think they are expected to have the answers and to set direction. For leaders looking to create a compelling vision, Stoner recommends using a collaborative, involving process that engages people in real dialogue about the vision and provides an opportunity to give feedback.
Some questions Stoner suggests leaders use include:
- What do you think about our vision?
- What is exciting about it to you?
- What would make it more exciting?
- What could we do differently going forward?
“The best way to get people to buy into something is to give them an opportunity to participate in its creation,” says Stoner. “You will always end up with something better than if you did it yourself.”
Get everyone involved for best results
When people have an opportunity to share their hopes and dreams, are involved in the discussions shaping the vision, and are included in making decisions, they have a clearer understanding of the vision, are more deeply committed to it, and move quickly to implement it.
Don’t miss the opportunity to include everyone in the process. Remember, it’s not the words that will stick in people’s minds—it’s the experience.