Hiring for Vision and Mission, Andrew Stein, SteinVoxHas your company’s vision or mission changed? If not, why not? I’m not talking about focus, although focus can change too.

If you are hiring, hire for mission, after assessing vision. To do otherwise may be operationally unsound.

Like a decaying barn and silo in the middle of a field is a response to the farm industry changing. Farmers don’t “put up silage” like they did 75 years ago. Likewise, as we leave industrial era thinking behind us, organizations must also shed their structure in response to change.

Each week, month or quarter, managers feel the strain of peak load on their teams. One response is to hire one more person. Another is to look at staffing firms for temporary talent as leadership determines if the load is seasonal, dynamic, or permanent.

Legacy Approaches Are Often Not Good

More often than not, leaders do not ask if the need for more people to deliver on yesterday’s strategies is to cover the tension created by delivering on a legacy vision and mission. That is to say, continue to use the same barn and silo of the last century, to produce and satisfy the changing needs of customers this century.

If company vision and mission are not aligned with events and changes in the market, the company’s vision and mission may need to be reviewed and updated before hiring. Beware of vision and mission that presses for permanent barns and silos.

That may be ok; however it might also indicate systemic issues. Growth in the organization without first considering the vision and mission can lead a company in the wrong direction. Consider if legacy is driving direction over customer centric thinking.

Look for These Symptoms

If you think that this may be going on in your organization, look for these symptoms:

  1. People show up and don’t know what they are supposed to do that day.
  2. Managers are not fully aware of what their people and teams are doing and achieving.
  3. People lose track of the corporate goals, and begin to execute activity, but fail to deliver on larger objectives.
  4. No one really knows who is responsible for many business processes.
  5. Managers are reporting metrics, but not asking the right questions about the metrics.
  6. Metrics don’t measure customer-centric factors. They ask the wrong question.

What to Do

When this happens, it’s time examine how the organization is aligned with the company’s vision and mission. Many have called this step “breaking down silos.”, but that is not enough. Depending on how long these cycles have gone on, to restart the corporate machine, things must start at the beginning.

If people are not working toward achieving the corporate mission, it’s likely no one knows what it is. And, if they don’t know what it is, perhaps it needs to be revisited.

Before breaking down silo walls and restructuring, the executive team must agree on where they are going, and what structure, roles, processes, and accountabilities are necessary to achieve the goals, which are the time-bound manifestation of the mission, which is the broader plan to achieve the long-term vision of the company. That’s a long sentence, so let’s make it linear.

1st – Review the Vision and Mission

Is it clear? Has it been pervasively communicated? Is it aligned with corporate competencies? Email it to your employees, and ask them what they think. They will tell you, if you leave the door open for honesty.

2nd – Revisit Annual and Quarterly Corporate Goals

Are they clear and pervasively communicated? Are they aligned with the corporate vision and mission? Can management tell you what they are? Can Managers defend the alignment of their team goals, group budget costs, and project expenses directly to a corporate goal(s)?

3rd – Examine Processes, Organization and Roles

These three things must be explored by the executive team, together. Changes to process have an effect on the organization structure, and the roles required.

Process should be set first to maximize business innovation and sustainable value creation efforts, then operational efficiency – in that order.

4th – Assign Roles and Hire for Mission

Next develop the leanest model for what competencies and roles are required. Determine if these are full time needs, or part time, which sets the tone among the team that every role, is not a new hire. Iterating on organization structure follows, until the optimal model surfaces.

After there is buy-in from leaders in the executive suite and the steps above are final, begin to associate names with the roles. Leaders often make the mistake of breaking down these process, organization, and communication silos, but fail to have the lean replacement plan at the ready to put in place.

More often it is the case at this stage, effective leaders realize that there is a significant gap in what people the company has, and what people and competencies the company needs. The next steps are not fun, but necessary for any good leader to take. She / he must objectively assess the bench strength of team members, and make a determination based on existing skills, future potential, and attitudes and behaviors for each individual and make the tough call to either a) put the person in a role, b) put the person on a training program to develop potential, or c) let that person go as the role for them does not exist.

Sounds like a Turnaround Strategy

If the steps above sound like a turnaround strategy, they do. If you turn around a little every day, you avoid the pain of a bigger turnaround, later, or worse, ultimate failure.

Beware of Snake Oil Solutions

It’s easy to find a consultant that will tell you what you want to hear. You may have been hoping for a single action to take, one that is easy, or you have a skill or affinity for. Taking that step prematurely as a panacea is certain disaster.

One cannot just “break down silos” and expect people to figure out what you want out of them, the organization and operational processes, through osmosis.

These steps take real and exceptional effort, and there are good growth turnaround consultants who are capable of understanding your company’s situation and being your partner through the transformation.

Avoid the consultant that has an immediate solution to slash, cut, and restructure without fully understanding the vision and mission.

To Ponder

Business is a constant turnaround. The notion of the “learning organization” should go much further to guild leadership team to think about not only a culture of learning, but a culture of constant turn-around and innovation. Constantly design your organization and hire for customer centricity, not management process legacy.

The notion that your organization is permanent is an artifact of human resources academics. HR professionals know they must constantly redesign the organization. Why not put culture in place that connects that constant redesign with vision and mission?

Change may look like decay, when it really is growth. Take steps to be aggressive. Everyday executives and management must think about what they will do differently today, aligned with the corporate vision, mission and goals. Let the silos of the industrial era, and even as recent as the last decade or the last year, fall.

Image Credit: Observe The Banana via photopin cc

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