Developing a team's 'Internal Compass', which includes the Values, Vision and Team Mission statements, can be one of the most frustrating and cynicism provoking activities you will ever undertake. But it doesn't have to be.
Everyone seems to agree that having an 'Internal Compass' is an important part of any business. These documents put into words:
- Where it is heading, (The Vision)
- How you will do it, (The Mission)
- What you stand for (The Values)
I've looked at hundreds of Values, Vision and Team Mission statements and they are all pretty similar... no matter the business or industry. Generally, you'll find they contain words and phrases, like:
- Do the Right Thing,
- People are Important,
- Share the Wealth,
- Open Communication,
These ideals create the unique internal compass that should drive the performance and focus of the business.
When the principles and ideals, contained within the Internal Compass documents are actually brought to life, and used on a daily basis, it brings a high degree of passion and energy to the workplace.
Zappos used their Inner Compass to make them a billion dollar company
Tony Hsieh CEO of Zappos, talks in his book, Delivering Happiness, about how they built Zappo's from no sales in 1999 to over $1 billion in sales. In 2009, Zappos was sold to Amazon in a deal valued at $1.2 billion. He credits this success to building Zappos on a strong culture, based on their organization's Values.
Used well your Internal Compass will create High Performance. Unfortunately most organizations don't do a good job of using the Vision, Values and Team Mission Statements. Instead ...
Use Your Inner Compass To Create High Performance not Cynicism
Generally many hours are spent crafting team mission statements, with often long and robust debates on whether the word 'a' or 'the' should be used in a particular sentence! Sadly, once crafted, the power contained within the documents are largely ignored... and this leads to cynicism.
The Internal Compass documents, which are plastered in employee handbooks and on the walls for visitors, often create cynicism. This is because the Leadership Team doesn't use them to make decisions. In fact, in many instances Leaders often make decisions, and choices, that blatantly ignore the values that have been voiced.
Contrast this, with High Performance Organizations', where you see clear proof that the leadership team are committed to following their Internal Compass. Bringing about the Vision by living the Values and ensuring the Team Mission Statements drive decisions. The Internal Compass is blended into how they do business.
Simply put, High Performance Leaders have made the link that the consistent use of the principles contained within the Internal Compass results in an organization in which people can perform at their best.
In many, many organizations, that I have had dealings with, very few people can clearly and quickly state their Values, Vision, and Team Mission statements. And fewer yet, can provide examples of how they use them, in their daily decision-making.
This Organization Does A Good Job Of Using Their Internal Compass
I often challenge teams with this question: "Provide me with at least three examples of how you have applied your Values, Vision and/or Team Mission Statements in the past week".
History tells me, that they mostly fumble for a bit and after some time, someone might think of something. Generally it's an effort for them to provide an example. Often times they've actually got to look on the wall for what their values are!
One company, that I've had the absolute delight to work with, Flight Centre, when I posed 'the' question, their leaders quickly provided several examples of how they had used or applied their Values, Vision and Team Mission Statements in the past week.
Do you think it is an accident that Flight Centre is extremely profitable, one of the fastest growing travel company's in the world and has received many awards for being "Best Place to Work"? Is it sheer luck? I think not!
This Organization Doesn't Use Their Internal Compass and the Results Show
Contrast this with another organization I have dealt with recently, (thankfully I didn't actually work with them!). It is an organization that needed to re-structure, and retrenchments were one of the outcomes. The people I had worked with clearly understood the need for the re-structure, and the retrenchments, and in the early days supported the changes.
But the way in which it was conducted, was a long way short of their organization's stated values.
In fact if ever there was a text-book case in how to get an organization to take its eye off the main ball game, (i.e. running a profitable business), and set it up for long-term cynicism, disillusionment, anger and frustration this would be it.
The way in which they ran their restructure will ensure that - for the long-term - there will be very little trust, or faith, shown from their middle-management, toward their senior management team. And the flow-on effects you can only imagine.
Interestingly enough, this organization is one that is well known to struggle with lackluster performance results, and to have continual industrial relations problems. Do you think it is an accident? Is it sheer luck? I think not!
Do you think their senior management team will ever 'get' it? I really don't think so! They just don't seem to get the link between performance and decisions based on alignment with their Internal Compass.
How Well Do You Use Your Organization's Internal Compass?
How would you answer these two questions:
- "Provide me with at least three examples of how you applied your Values, Vision, and Team Mission Statements in the past week"
- "Do the people around you know that you are using your Values, Vision, and Team Mission Statements to drive your decision-making?"
If it is a struggle for you to remember how you've used your Internal Compass, then time to dig out those statements and start to find opportunities to apply them in your daily decision-making. Be mindful of the reasons those words and statements were chosen and what performance they are supposed to enable your business to deliver.
Make sure the people around you are aware that you are using your Vision, Mission and Values to guide your decision-making. When making decisions in meetings make reference to your Internal Compass. Ask people questions like:
"As we make this decision how does it reflect our business's values/vision/mission?"
As you influence the people around you to use your Values, Vision, and Team Mission Statements as decision-drivers watch how your organization prospers.
- Keep a track of how many times this week you use your Values, Vision, and Team Mission Statements to drive your decision-making
- Identify the impact your decisions are having on your business for the short and long-term, particularly if you are not using your Values, Vision and Team Mission Statements as decision-drivers
- Find ways to refer to your Values, Vision and Team Mission Statements when in meetings with others... to raise the awareness of your team, your peers, and others leaders that daily use of these powerful statements is a sure way to move your business toward High Performance.
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