Need a Translator for Your Company’s Vision?

We need translators in many aspects of our everyday lives: foreign language translators, technical translators and even translators for our children, who sometimes sound like they are speaking an entirely different language. At work, do you seem to need a translator for your company’s vision, mission, and goals? Companies spend a lot of time and money pulling these together. They are careful about word selection, what the vision, mission, and goals will convey, and how they will read. Once companies complete this work, they laminate the statements, post them in break rooms, and add them to important presentations.

And that’s all great. Except maybe when the middle- and front-line employees walk out of those presentations saying, “Wow, I get the big picture, but I don’t understand what it means to me.”

As an executive coach and a facilitator of leadership courses, I’m often asked: What is the best way to gain buy-in on a new vision, mission, and associated goals? Below is a model to help you build understanding and commitment to a new direction.

Translating Your Company’s Vision

Remember, the kind of information people like and trust may be different. Some people seek the big picture — they want to comprehend the meaning of things — while others want more details, specifics, and plans. To address both, I coach executives to use this formula:

BP + AP = MU

(Big Picture + Action Plan = Meaningful Understanding)

Step 1: BP (Big Picture)

Always start with the big picture. Explain the vision as the aspiration, and speak about how the mission directly relates to the vision. Go through three of four high-level goals. Connect the dots by mentally or physically drawing a picture, or speaking in a way that visualizes the future. This will help people “see” where you are headed. But don’t stop there!

Step 2: AP (Action Plan)

Outside of the C-Suite, your management team and front-line want to know specifically what the vision and mission mean to them. They want to know their role in the process. Typically, they want to support the mission, but sometimes they have trouble converting what the high level means to them and their teams. Sometimes employees get the goals early in the year and, when it’s time for self-assessment, they have difficulty connecting their work to the goals.

So, when launching your new direction, be sure to use the second half of the formula: AP (Action Plan). AP means providing a visual of your plan or key thoughts on real actions and timing. Talk about or show an example of one of the goals and specifically how it translates to the front line. Here is an example:

Goal: Provide our customers with service experiences that retain their business and a positive perception of our products and services every day.

Pretty nebulous, wouldn’t you say?

If that is a high-level goal across your business, as leaders, the second part of the formula is critical. Start translating. Make it meaningful. Imagine you were leading a phone service center team. What would this mean to them? This is where the third step comes in.

Step 3: MU (Meaningful Understanding)

Translation: Provide our customers with a great service experience by keeping our abandoned calls under 1% and obtaining a 98% incident satisfaction rate after each call.

As leaders, part of your role — whether you know it or not — is translation expert. When the thoughts from the top are translated effectively, buy-in happens and people start heading in a common direction — collectively. They know what the big picture goals mean specifically to them. So, maybe, just add this new formula to your bag of tricks.

BP+AP=MU

(Big Picture + Action Plan = Meaningful Understanding)


This post was originally published by Christine in Forbes’ Coaches Council CommunityVoice — an invitation-only division of Forbes Magazine — where Christine is a member and contributing author.

Photo credit: rawpixel

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