I am regularly called upon by company leaders to help them “improve the workplace environment.” Leaders know that help is required to motivate staff, to deal with conflict and to get everyone pointed and pulling in the same direction.
I recently worked with a company that has just realigned after a shareholder buyout. Long standing conflict and conversations about “what was” and “how awful” are disappearing in favour of “excitement for the new.” With the loss of any team member(s) a whole new team forms. This team is adjusting to new roles, aligning support for each other over various responsibilities, and defining work-related parameters.
The principals, drained by the transition, are now focused on building their new team. They want to increase employee commitment to the “new” company. Each partner has a similar, yet different idea of the company mission and how to proceed. The principals had failed to formulate a mission statement despite attempting to do so over a five-year period. They decided to bring in help.
We instructed the partners to provide us with their vision and mission statement and to do so in isolation from each other. A subsequent meeting was arranged. During the second meeting we had them answer critical questions, the findings of which were key to formulating their new mission statement. After an hour and a half the task was complete.
Like many business owners they had spent countless hours with each other, with staff, at work and during secluded retreats. They estimated the cost to be in the tens of thousands of dollars. While their intent was great their results were nil – until now.
“Your mission is your purpose for existing as a business,” I reminded them. “Everything you do must align with your mission statement.” Every day leaders face business decisions that leave them doubting. The single question that clarifies their next step is “What is my purpose here?” A crystal clear mission statement makes the next step possible.
The partners know their mission statement is invaluable and want their staff to use it. They have planned a three-part intervention to invite staff’s buy-in. I reminded the partners that when the leaders make decisions in the absence of employee input, employees have no attachment to it. They feel no commitment and no passion to carry out the plan. However, when staff is invited to join the enterprise and to help move the company forward, they feel valued and will get involved.
That is exactly what is happening here.
Practical steps are insufficient. It’s essential that leaders use external specialists, highly skilled in developing mission statements and intimately familiar with human responses. Understanding why people resist, where they feel vulnerable, and how to surface employee’s real concerns, is critical. Partners need to understand their own leadership style, their unique methods of decision-making and their values. By doing so they can learn not to inflame employees and unintentionally create a difficult environment. One thing that is helpful to pass the message you want to the employees and create a united team is hiring a motivational speaker – if you want to check one, a great option is Richard Jadick.
Committed to developing a highly engaged, communicative and innovative staff, the principals are now creating a positive economic impact for their company. Everyone wins.
If you are the leader, it’s your role to set the stage. How you, or those you appoint on your behalf, manage your people, design your mission statement, build commitment to the company, and reorganize your company is paramount to your success. Quality is never about things. It’s about your people.