An organization’s vision statement and core values are more important than ever in the business world of today. Regardless of your industry, employees and consumers are interested in why you exist and what you stand for as this helps distinguish you from the competition. One need only look at the kind of advertising and marketing strategies being used to see it. A business that believes in something can engage people on a personal level while generating interest and spreading brand awareness like never before.
Your company vision statement and core values give customers more reasons to do business with you than just a product or service alone. While a vision tells people where you are going and why it’s important to you, values explain how you plan to get there. Simply put, an organization’s vision statement and core values are absolutely vital for both employees and customers to understand. Establishing your vision of the future and setting your values gives you an indispensable advantage in attracting and retaining talent while reaching and keeping the customers who support you.
Setting The Vision
A company vision is a picture of the end result. It answers the question “why?” rather than just explaining “what” you do which is more reflective of a mission statement. A compelling vision helps employees and customers better understand what business you are really in and why you are in it. It provides a picture of the desired future that one can actually see. Great organizations have a deep and noble sense of purpose that inspires excitement and commitment. That purpose is about being great as opposed to just beating the competition. Most importantly, a compelling vision helps each employee see how he or she can contribute to making the vision a reality. There are several things every business leader should ask themselves.
- What am I hoping to achieve?
- How am I going to achieve it?
- How long will it take?
Answering these questions will give you a good idea of what your company vision is. When you first started out, you probably had a good idea about what you wanted your business to become, even if you didn’t formally put it into words. Remember, these are all things your employees and customers will want to know about you. A business with a good plan is a business people feel they can rely on, and having goals for a bright future gives them a reason to want you to succeed. Once you have a clear vision, you’ll be one step closer to discovering the core values that will guide your business to seeing it through.
What Are Core Values?
Every successful company has a set of core values that assists employees in accomplishing the goals necessary to achieve the company vision. Values are deeply held beliefs that certain qualities are desirable. They define what is most important to an organization. Values provide broad guidelines on how all employees are expected to proceed as they pursue the company vision.
Because values explain “how”, they need to be clearly described so everyone knows exactly what behaviors demonstrate that the values are being lived. Values need to be consistently acted on, or they are only “good intentions.” If the core values of an organization are integrity, respect, teamwork and innovation, I should be able to see those values demonstrated by employees as I walk around or sit in on meetings. It is up to the Leaders of the organization to make sure those values come to life by modeling them every day, acknowledging and recognizing when employees are living the core values, and then holding both themselves and others accountable to them.
Company values are the essence of a company’s identity and provide a guide on how the company should operate. When a prospective employee or customer looks at your About page, what will they see? Ideally, they’ll find something memorable that resonates with them and their own core values. That’s why it’s important to know what it is your organization truly stands for. A business that believes in improving lives or expanding knowledge, for example, is doing something more than simply selling something. You’re helping to build the kind of world that your employees and customers believe in and want to see.
First Steps TO AN EFFECTIVE VISION STATEMENT
After a good deal of thought, you’ll probably have a decent idea about what your vision statement and core values are. So what next? For a vision to become a reality, how it’s created and how it’s communicated is critical. A best practice is for organizations to draft their vision and values with the help and input of a large team as opposed to just doing it by themselves in a vacuum. While this process will take longer, you will have more fingerprints on the final product and a lot more buy-in when it comes time to roll it out. The important thing is to implement and share your values with the world. Leveraging the help and guidance of an outside facilitator is a great way to begin this process. We recommend the following:
- Draft A Vision Statement: Sharing your vision can be a great guide for explaining your values. Be sure to keep it simple, but clear enough for everyone to understand. Remember, a vision statement describes where you are going in the future. For example, Southwest’s vision statement is: To be the world’s most loved, most efficient, and most profitable airline. Tip: if the vision statement is too lengthy and complex to remember and recite it’s probably too long.
- Communicate And Compare: As mentioned before, defining your vision and values is best done in an iterative process, working with a team. The insight and various perspectives is invaluable. By brainstorming together, you can also learn ways to communicate your values most effectively.
- Always Be Unique: While most organizations have core values, your core values are what sets you apart. Let your audience know what unique ideals make you the best choice for what you do.
- Imagine How You’ll Grow: As your organization grows, your vision may change slightly over time but usually your core values remain the same. Be sure to think about your organization with an eye towards the future.
In summation, an organization’s vision statement and core values are like a north star. They help guide and keep everyone on the same path as they work hard to accomplish their goals. A powerful vision will attract people to your organization and help employees see how the work they are doing is making a difference.
Strong core values will serve as guideposts for how everyone is expected to behave and treat each other while helping to inform critical business decisions. With a bright north star, you’ll have more opportunities to engage meaningfully with your employees and customers, build a strong corporate culture, and live your values every day doing what you do best.
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