Recently I’ve been discussing the challenges their teams are facing in the upcoming year and what training their team needs to meet these challenges with several leaders in one organization. One concern that has come up several times is how to get the leader’s vision communicated and implemented down to the supervisors’ level. In this organization the first line supervisors do not see the head of their organization other than in monthly update videos. There is little or no personal contact as the team is spread out over North America. This has me thinking about how you ensure the vision is accurate and applied throughout an organization, particularly one that is not all co-located.
First the vision must be clear and concrete enough for people to be able to describe it. This means that it must address the issue of “what’s in it for me” at all levels of the organization. The overall vision may not contain this in its high level statement, however, if not it must be able to be broken down so people understand how they fit in.
Next each level of the organization must understand how the vision will impact their immediate working environment. Will they have to do new things, learn new skills, use new tools/technology or work with new vendors and/or customers? How will this change the things they are doing each day? Breaking it down so that each person in the organization understands their role and the expectations for their contribution is a key to successful implementation of the vision.
Now the leadership team needs to look at what are the skill gaps within the organization. Are there expectations that cannot be met because the individuals do not have the skills required? If there new tools or technology being implemented, do people know how to use them? Do the leaders and managers know how to manage change? Take the time to really understand if there are gaps in the skill sets of the team to ensure the vision can be implemented effectively. Changing things without providing the tools and skills will lead to failure.
Finally, as the new vision is rolled out and implemented get feedback on what is working and what needs improvement. When an organization is spread out it’s easy to think all is well if there are no complaints. Unfortunately, people may be struggling with the concepts, tools or lack of skills at the lowest levels. As a leader it is critical to seek information about how things are going. Be sure to ask and then really listen to what is being said. Ask questions to gain deep understanding of the concerns or problems. When getting the feedback, think of yourself as a sponge – absorb what is said without comment or defensive reaction. Once you have the information you can reply or adjust what you are doing to address these issues.
So as you are sharing the vision for your organization, be clear, break it down, close any gaps and get feedback. If you do these four things, consistently and continually, you will be successful in creating a compelling vision at all levels and it will be effectively implemented.
What have you done to get the vision to all levels of your organization?