As a small business leader, one of the most important things you can do is develop a mechanism to include all employees in the vision of your organization. Some of the benefits of a shared company vision include:
* Employee satisfaction.
* Increased productivity.
* Organizational pride.
* Faster and more disciplined decision making.
Kouzes and Posner, authors of the Leadership Challenge, state that “leadership is a dialogue not a monologue”. So how do you start the dialogue about company vision with your employees? The first step is to make the commitment to schedule that first meeting. If possible, the session should include every employee in your company and be organized to encourage participation, open discussion and the sharing of ideas.
I have had the opportunity to facilitate a few of these types of meetings and have witnessed how effective they can be. The company I work with sets up “strategy sessions” every six months. The goals of these meetings are to:
* facilitate the exchange of ideas.
* offer all employees an opportunity to participate in shaping the vision of the organization.
* provide an opportunity for the company to communicate vision, objectives, strategies, etc to their whole team.
The first session focused on the marketing of the company’s products and services. Through various small and large group activities, brainstorming, white-boarding, etc., the company harvested a number of great ideas from the group (18 employees). Some of the concepts flushed out during the marketing session found there way into the annual strategic plan.
The next session addressed strategic planning. During this meeting everyone received a copy of the annual business plan. This was a great shared vision strategy – employees saw that there ideas from the previous meeting were being used in the plan and they also had the opportunity to learn about, discuss and question the strategic direction of the organization.
In this particular case, the management group of the company established the final strategic plan. The process of including all employees in strategic discussions and offering the opportunity for honest dialogue and shared thought helped create a “shared vision” scenario – and a fertile environment that has positioned the company for future growth and success.