A shared vision between the company and its employees helps create personal meaning for employees and allows them to relate to the organisation on a personal level; to take pride in the organisation and the work they do for it. If a company and its employees have a shared vision, management can help them better understand what the company does and what it stands for.
Once employees have that understanding, they are more able – and probably more willing – to share that vision with others. If management is able to inspire them to have pride in the organisation and what it stands for, it is more likely they will want the company to succeed. Not just to succeed to ensure they continue to have a job and a paycheck, but also because they believe in what the company is doing. They feel like they’re a part of it. Shared vision equals a shared sense of purpose.
According to Christopher Bartlett and Sumantra Ghoshal, authors of Changing the Role of Top Management: Beyond Strategy to Purpose, (1994) “Shared vision reflects the values of the company and those who work in it.” If everyone in the organisation agrees on purpose – what the organisation stands for – a core belief system, you can all move forward in the same direction, even if individual members of the group get there in different ways.
“Capture employee’s attention and interest by defining a company’s objectives so that they have personal meaning for employees. Allow them to access information in simple, personal language that anyone could understand,” states Bartlett and Ghoshal (1994). “Equally important is that employees can relate to and take pride in such a mission.”
A Mercer Human Resource Consulting survey argues that helping employees agree on the brand and vision and how it should be presented to customers is important because when executives and managers live the company brand, employees are more likely to understand their role in delivering high levels of customer service. (Krell 2006)
“Of the 85 percent of senior executive respondents who indicated that their behavior demonstrated their brand, 87 percent believed that all or most of their employees were fully aware of their role in providing a positive experience to clients. However, of the 15 percent who said senior executive behavior does not align with the brand, only 58 percent said employees understand their customer service roles.” (Krell 2006)
Shared vision, and a focus on shared understanding of organisational purposes, can help create emotional motivation in management and employees. This can show itself in pride in the overall organisation or individual job, a shared sense of purpose, increased personal and organisational confidence, and a knowledge that the company’s personal four core values are shared by the people who work within the company. These shared values allow employee and organisational development and growth.
An interview with Andrew and Peggy Cherng, founders of the multi-national Panda Express fast-food chain (Bartiromo, 2007) states, “They take seriously the concept that to lead is to serve. Put in action, that philosophy means helping associates improve their livelihood and, in the process, learn to live a fuller life. ‘In the end’, says Andrew, ‘they are better off financially, but they’re also smarter because they’re curious and learning. They take care of themselves physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually. When all of us do these things well, there’s a better chance we will treat the customer better.’
Creating a shared vision is vital for management to articulate the organisation’s focus and purpose. This can be accomplished by having an organisational plan in place, having a shared belief in or understanding of what the organisation is doing and why it’s being done – from management and employee perspectives – and also having an understanding of the business’ audience and their needs. This process allows management to identify needed characteristics in employees, clients and projects, that benefit not only employee growth but the overall growth of the business.
“If you’re not going in the right direction, you might as well be standing still,” says Emma Harrison, founder of E4a Ltd, a multi-national training corporation based in the UK (2007)., “You might eventually get where you wanted to go, but you’ll lose valuable time and focus on the way.
Find your focus – your direction – and start moving forward.”
BARTIROMO, M. (2007) Readers Digest. Positive Thinkers. P. 61-63.
BARTLETT, C AND GHOSHAL, S. (1994) Harvard Business Review Vol 73, No. 3 Beyond Strategy to People.
HARRISON, E. (2007) Top Tips to Grow Your Business. Workshop at Norwich Playhouse, Norwich UK. [30.10.07]