Most organizations have an 'Internal Compass". These are the Vision, Values and Team Mission statements which clearly show the way the founders/leaders intended for the organization to operate. When used well they are one of the prime reasons that an organization achieves high-performance status (which research from only 2% of organizations ever do).
But these Team Mission statements, are often just words on walls and in booklets. And unfortunately, they can be the cause of much cynicism and frustration. They can breed a belief by team members that this is a company without much integrity.
So let's take a look at why it is essential to bring your Internal Compass to life,
Your Internal Compass defines:
When the principles and ideals contained within the Internal Compass documents are brought to life, and used daily, it brings a high degree of passion, focus, and performance to the workplace.
Which end of the continuum does your organization fall?
Tony Hsieh CEO of Zappos, talks in his book, "Delivering Happiness", about how they built Zappos from no sales in 1999 to over $1 billion. In 2009, Amazon purchased Zappos in a deal valued at $1.2 billion. He credits this success to Zappos powerful culture, built on their organization's values.
Applied well, your Internal Compass will create high-performance. Unfortunately, most organizations don't do an excellent job of using their Vision, Values, and Team Mission Statements. Instead, this is what you usually see!
Generally, many hours are spent crafting team mission statements, with often long and robust debates on whether the word 'a' or 'the' is used in a particular sentence! Sadly, once crafted, the power contained within the documents is often ignored.
You can guarantee the Internal Compass documents, are plastered in employee handbooks and on the walls. But they often create cynicism.
This is because the Leadership Team doesn't use them to make decisions.
In fact, in many instances, leaders often make decisions and choices that blatantly ignore the values that have been voiced.
Contrast this with high-performance organizations. Here you see clear proof that the leadership team is committed to following their Internal Compass. Bringing about the Vision by living the Values and ensuring the Team Mission Statements drive decisions.
The Internal Compass is blended into how they do business.
Simply put, high-performance leaders make the link that the consistent use of the principles contained within the Internal Compass results in an organization in which people perform at their best.
Sadly, in many, many organizations that I have had dealings with, very few people can clearly and quickly state their Values, Vision, and Team Mission statements. And fewer yet, can provide examples of how they use them, in their daily decision-making. And I have yet to go into a company where this is the case, and it has been a 'rockstar' in its industry.
I often challenge teams with this question: "Provide me with at least three examples of how you have deliberately applied your Values, Vision and/or Team Mission Statements in the past week."
History tells me that they mostly fumble for a bit. After some time, someone might think of something. Generally, it's an effort for them to provide an example. Often they've got to look on the wall for what their values are!
Flight Centre is a company I worked with for several years. When I first started working with them, I posed 'the' question. The leaders of the team I was working with, quickly provided several examples of how they had used or applied their Values, Vision, and Team Mission Statements in the past week.
Do you think it is an accident that Flight Centre is hugely profitable? That they are one of the fastest-growing travel company's in the world? They have received many awards for being "Best Place to Work"? Is it sheer luck? I think not!
Contrast this with another organization I have dealt with recently, (thankfully I didn't work with them!). It is an organization that needed to restructure, and retrenchments were one of the outcomes. The people I spoke with clearly understood the need for the restructure and the retrenchments. And, in the early days supported the changes.
But how the senior leadership team rolled out the restructure was a long way short of their organization's stated values.
If ever there was a textbook case for how to get an organization to take its eye off the main ball game, (i.e. running a profitable business), and set it up for long-term cynicism, disillusionment, anger, and frustration this would be it.
How they ran the restructure will ensure that there will be little trust or faith shown from their middle-management toward their senior management for years to come. And the flow-on effects you can only imagine.
Interestingly enough, this organization is known to struggle with lackluster performance and results. They have persistent industrial relations problems. Do you think it is an accident? Is it sheer luck? I think not!
Do you think their senior management team will ever 'get' it? I don't think so! They don't seem to get the link between performance and decisions based on alignment with their Internal Compass.
How would you answer these two questions:
If it is a struggle for you to remember how you've used your Internal Compass, then time to start finding opportunities to apply them in your daily decision-making. If you want to be a rockstar leader in your industry, be great at using your organization's values as you go about your daily activities. It will set you apart from others.
Make sure the people around you are aware that you are using your Vision, Mission, and Values to guide your decision-making. When making decisions in meetings make reference to your Internal Compass. Ask people questions like:
"As we make this decision how does it reflect our business's values/vision/mission?"
As you influence the people around you to use your Values, Vision, and Team Mission Statements as decision-drivers watch how your organization prospers.
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