It’s common to see vision and mission statements of organizations displayed on websites, walls and in presentations. But I often wonder how many employees could actually articulate the intended meaning or relevance of the message. I must admit as I was coming up through the ranks, there were times when I couldn’t readily recite our vision and mission statements either. I am pretty sure that many of you can relate to what I am saying.
We recently pulled out our vision at Marco and dusted it off. I had been involved in the process in the past, but this time was different. I took a personal interest in what we said – and how we said it. It was important to me that the vision accurately reflected what we are aspiring to be.
It challenged me to think about what makes a useful vision statement. Here are three key characteristics I recommend:
We can put many words in a vision, but they really aren’t relevant unless they can be validated. Every time we considered a word or phrase for our vision, we asked ourselves, “Could this really be us?, Could we do this?” A vision of unfounded or lofty claims will not catch on and carry the energy desired.
The vision of a company needs to reflect the leadership goals and business plans of the organization. While it may start at the top, the vision statement also needs to resonate with employees and feel personal to them, too. This is where the vision can really become meaningful to the workplace culture.
From my perspective, a vision statement should be really short with a simple sentence structure. I suggest no more than 15 to 20 words and avoiding conjunctions that make the sentence more difficult to remember and repeat. This challenges us to be clear and concise, and keep the message focused.
The first letters of those three characteristics make up the acronym “GPS.” That was not my intent. But I do think that GPS really captures the essence of a vision statement. It should clearly communicate what you want to achieve as an organization.
Inside the Vision
What I like about our new vision at Marco is that it describes who we want to be, can easily be recited and resonates with employees:
“To be a growth driven technology services company admired for its people and performance.”
Every word needed to count because they all needed to be meaningful and I didn’t want a lot of them. So, why did we choose those words?
- Growth driven: We have grown by 30 percent annually over the past seven years and we have made a commitment to keep growth a focus moving forward. We want it to be a core part of our culture. We know if we’re not growing, we can’t provide career opportunities for our employees, more value to our customers, and charitable contributions to our communities.
- Technology services: We’ve made an intentional shift in recent years to expand and focus more on delivering professional services. It emphasizes value and builds loyalty with our customers. It also is a more sustainable business model for us and, quite frankly, it’s more profitable.
- Admired for people: Our people are what make us successful. Of course, every company is going to claim that. Customers can get our products in other places. We know customers choose us and stay with us because of their relationships with our people. We want to be a cool place to work and a cool company to do business with. We’ve been measuring employee satisfaction for more than 25 years. We added 300 employees last year and achieved our highest employee satisfaction index in the survey’s history. As our business expands both in geography and team members, this will continue to be one of our defining metrics.
- Admired for performance: We believe record keepers are record breakers. You’ve heard me say that before. We’re committed to achieving results for our customers and our company. We keep score. Our customers like that, and so do our shareholders. Over 90 percent of our customers would recommend Marco for technology services and it’s important to us that we continue to rank at the top of our industry.
A vision statement should not be something you just hang on the wall. It should be built on the company’s DNA, reflect the company’s potential and generate excitement in the organization. That’s what this vision does for me. Perhaps it’s time for your organization to dust off your vision statement, too.