Dear Members,

With the permission of Mike and Mark, I would like to pose a question for discussion. First and foremost, I am in my graduate program in Nursing Leaderhsip, but also a member of MT's. I am also a strong candidate for a management position in the hosptial I work for.

If any of you have read "The Leader's Shadow" by Judge (1999), you may have the answers to help. But I am looking for a broad array of responses.

[b]The Question[/b]: [i]Vision statements are popular and ubiquitious in organizations today; however, very few employees know or care about these vision statements. Why do you think that this is so?[/i]

My first response would be that employee are not taking their jobs seriously anymore. Why, I don't have the answer for this. I would speculate that the majority of individuals may read the vision statement and put them in the back of their mind maybe because the organization does portray what they are trying accomplish or further "Hardwire" what there mission, vision, or values are.

I know that in my organization, these are posted, and are also now incorporated in the annual reviews. They are also incorporated into the strategic objectives of the organization. Our overall vision for my healthcare institution is to be a [u][b]World-Class Healthcare Provider[/b][/u]. You can see these on our website: PVHS is a Magnet facility, and a Malcom Baldridge candidate. We have already had one site visit with a potential visit in October. Will keep you posted.

I would like to hear from other managers about why they think this is an issue and what if anything have you done to help.

Mark's picture
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Well, leading off with Judge's book isn't terribly auspicious - it's not very good - kinda thin.

The reason vision statements are both ubiquitous and ineffective is because organizational leaders mistakenly equate the statement with an actual vision, to be followed through on with specific behavior changes that support the vision. It's easier to wordsmith a statement than it is to say, "we used to do it that way, but we don't anymore, because even though that way works, this way is more in line with getting us to our vision. Stop doing that in that way now."

Further, publishing them everywhere and then allowing leaders and executives to behave pretty much in the way they used to is just about the most destructive thing to do to productivity and motivation I can think of. It reminds of executives who hire me and say, "fix my team - I'm fine and won't be needing the coaching/training." Yeah, right.

Vision statements are easy. Vision behavior is hard.

[b]As Drucker said, what gets done in organizations is not what should get done, but what CAN get done. It took him far less words than it did me.[/b]

jmpacek's picture

[quote]The Question: Vision statements are popular and ubiquitious in organizations today; however, very few employees know or care about these vision statements. Why do you think that this is so? [/quote]

[u]Below are two such statements[/u]:

Pharmacy's goal is to be the primary supplier of pharmacy and health care products in the communities that we serve and to complement our pharmacies with a broad selection of general merchandise provided in a strong service-oriented, convenient retail setting. Our stores will be visually exciting, well organized, well stocked, and fun for our customers to shop.
In pursuit of our mission, we are committed to providing our employees with opportunities for personal and professional growth in an environment that operates at the highest levels of integrity.
a place where customers are treated with respect and they feel appreciated and welcome. We are committed to a team work environment where every associate is a valued member, treated with respect, encouraged to contribute and recognized and rewarded for his/her efforts. We value our suppliers as partners. We are committed to the highest level of integrity in every aspect of our business. We are fiscally responsible and committed to consistently deliver value for our investors. We communicate openly, honestly and accurately with our stakeholders: associates, shareholders and suppliers. We are focused on and committed to the healthcare needs of our customers. We are caring neighbors, involved in community activities in meaningful ways and committed to reflecting the diversity of each community we serve.

To be a successful chain of friendly, neighborhood drugstores. Our knowledgeable, caring associates work together to provide a superior pharmacy experience, and offer everyday products and services that help our valued customers lead healthier, happier lives.

[i][b]As you can tell, both are from Retail Pharmacy. As an employee of either of these companies, what does it tell you? Something different from ANY other Retail business? Is this not what you expect and deserve in any retail environment, either as an employee or customer?

Another question, did you ever read a mission statement that states their not the best in any specific field, I would think not. Thus the average employee of any company (unless you are a CEO or close to that of importance) would or could care less of these vision statements.
The employee cares about compensation and benefits, especially at the lower levels. Ever attend a Corporate meeting where the CEO has spoken to the group of thousands of people and stated that THIS is the best company. Some if not most have worked in the same position with other companies and have said the same thing to the thousands of attendees. I just don't think they leave one company to the next because of a vision/mission statement, as I would not. Hopefully the discussion will continue.[/i][/b]

Todd G's picture

Mark and JM,

Both very insightful and I appreciate it. Mark I know you hit the nail on the head with your thoughts. We can always say something and it comes out relatively easy and looks good on paper. But it is the behavior that either ensues or doesn't.

The good thing about Judge, is it is an easy read. Especially when you have three books and 14 chapters to read collectively. I have really learned the skimming part. I also remember, during one of the podcasts where you explained something to the fact that if managers have to read books on how to manage, they are in the wrong business. I hold that firmly true. Utilize the knowledge and support it with what is being taught.

JM, You are so right! Whether you are in sales, healthcare, automotive, or hospitality, people do expect to have the service be better than the next guy. This I cannot understand when you are in a business and are ignored and they know you are there. DRIVES ME NUTS..... Your point is taken to heart. We were in one of the chain stores and my wife was completely aggravated by the employee. Trying to get a special calendar made for her grandmother for Christmas and the employee continued to puruse the photos and ask questions, called her "Hon", etc......

People just don't think I believe in the vision statements.
What is your thought on bringing these up for new employees at their 3 month and 6 month evaluations as well?


Todd G's picture


To further validate your issue about what the employees really want. That was the whole purpose of this question. Why do they not care about what the vision of the organization really is.

In one of my text's Focus on Leadership (Spears & Lawrence) they discuss a scenario of Partnership in an Organization.

This is a major airline and the employees were working under the authoritarian style of the company's first president. Overall this style fostered compliance, not committment (First major mistake). Therefore the company was in shambles and there was no commitment from employees. (I would say this is one reason why employees do not care about vision statements).

A new president was hired and fostered the approach of leadership:partnership, where employees were encouraged to be accountable, even in areas for which they didn't have authority.
They worked together and became a team. Pilots working with ramp agents, customer service agents working with skycaps and so on...
Individuality was honored, employees focused on fundamentals -on-time arrivals, quick turnarounds, and low cost fares. It is now one of the highly prized employers in the industry. As Judge (1999) says, visions are the fundamental purpose of a vision to provide guidance and common direction to the members of the organization. It has to be lived day in and day out otherwise employee' s won't care about their work environment.

GlennR's picture

As for why people don't put much stock in vision statements, I'd say the majority of employees are not senior management therefore they're interested in tactical issues. A vision statement is a strategic level statement. To gain buy in, they're usually created by committee which means they risk being unfocused (pun intended.)

(Warning: Tongue planted firmly in cheek) Then for those senior managers who are left over, the High D's don't see the value because they expect people to just get'er done. The High I's don't like them because the vision statements are not about them. The High C's don't like them because they're not specific enough. That leaves only the High S's.

So you're only left with a tiny minority of people who see their value. :)

jmpacek's picture

Very nicely put, Thanks GlennR

Gareth's picture

Trustworthy - we do what we say we will
Helpful - we work as one team
Inspiring - we create new possibilities
Straightforward - we make things clear
Heart - we believe in what we do

These are the values that the company i work for base both vision and strategy statements around. I've found that basing a mission statement around values you use in your everyday work more meaningful to the employee's.

Todd G's picture

Thank you everyone who has responded. It's always good to see and hear what other people do around the country and the globe. You are the best and I thank MT for allowing this to take place.

GlennR's picture

And thank you for bringing it up.

My thanks also to Gareth for posting his company's values. I was able to circulate that around in my organization since we are coming out of a merger and want to look at values.

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