7 Tips For Sharing Your Vision With Your Team

The head of HR explained to me, “My team provides great customer service. Whatever a business leader asks for, they knock themselves out to provide it quickly and with quality.

“But I think we need to change to a consultative approach. When we get a request, we should ask about the problem and then to work with the leader to identify the right solution. Being quick to deliver whatever is requested is not necessarily good customer service in the long run, if what you deliver doesn’t solve the problem.”

“What does your team think?” I asked.

She replied, “I haven’t shared it with them. I wanted to talk with you first to think it through further. What exactly will it look like? What training will be needed? How will we communicate it to the business leaders?”

She knew it was a good idea, so why was she waiting to discuss it with her team? Like many leaders, she thought she was supposed to have all the answers first.

My response to her was:  You don’t have to figure it all out before you share it with your team.

Instead of figuring it out alone, I offered her these guidelines for bringing it to her team:

  1. Don’t wait to figure it all out before you share your ideas. Once you have a good sense of what’s important and why, before you figure it all out, talk about it with your team. Don’t try to “sell” your ideas. Talk about what honestly excites you. Help them see the rationale and the big picture before you jump to planning the details. Your vision will become clearer for you and others will begin to think about their own ideas and hopes.
  2. Examine your own behavior. The minute you are clear about what’s important, make sure your behavior is consistent with what you are espousing. Be conscious of all your actions great and small, every minute of every day. People pay more attention to what they see you do than to what you say. It’s the only way people will believe you mean what you say. And by modeling the vision, you are demonstrating what it looks like in real life.
  3. Encourage others to share their ideas and dreams. Put the topic on a meeting agenda or devote an extended amount of time for it. Discuss it with your team informally. Encourage them to look beyond the scope of their job and look at the big picture.
  4. Listen closely to what they say. Make sure you really understand what they are saying. What do they think is the purpose? What values do they believe should guide behaviors? What would be happening if the team were magnificent?Point out the commonalities so people are aware of how their ideas and hopes resonate with each other.
  5. Recognize you do not own the vision. If you want a shared vision, others must feel they have participated in shaping it. Let go of any feelings of sole ownership. You can and should still care deeply. But quite likely they will have a perspective that will enrich the vision and make it stronger.
  6. Publish your vision but don’t cast it in stone. With input from everyone on your team, develop and publish a vision statement. This should be a living document. Visioning is not a static process. You do not create a vision once and then stop. Visions evolve. As you accomplish goals and get closer to realizing your vision, it will become clearer. The essence of it will not change, but you may find new elements. Other elements may gain more depth. Make everyone understands the final wording is not cast in stone. It’s a good idea to revisit it once or twice a year, and fine-tune the wording if needed.
  7. Hold each other accountable for behaving consistently with the vision. If you ignore the behavior of others who act inconsistently with the vision, you threaten the trust and alignment of the people who are behaving consistently with it. Accountability does not mean finger-pointing and accusations. It means having frank and open conversations when it feels like a boundary has been crossed. It means learning together from mistakes because you care about each other. Help each other stay on track by celebrating “wins” – catch each other doing things right.

17 comments to 7 Tips For Sharing Your Vision With Your Team

  • “You don’t have to figure it all out before you share it with your team.” that is so true Jesse. Thanks for the post and I agree that often this desire of delivering the “prefect solution” leads only to holding up an important process, and more dangerous is when people are attached to it resulting in one pushing a vision onto people rather than getting them to participate and buy into it’s birth.

  • Hi Jesse,

    Love your work and your passion.

    I’m with Thabo, love “permission” to move forward without having it all figured out. In my opinion, trying to figure it all out kills momentum and hinders team-ownership.

    Thanks for sharing your insights on this topic.

    Best to you,

    Dan

  • fay kandarian

    It’s lovely to see your wisdom captured in writing so that those other than your clients can benefit.

  • I love #7! We fall down here, because I don’t think people really think through what behaviors are required or in line with our vision–we don’t bring it down to earth for people. I love asking the questions like, “So what would this vision look like? What would we be doing/not doing?”

    • Absolutely. I’m always concerned when I see values listed as single words such as “respect” or “teamwork”. Words mean different things to different people until they begin to have conversations about what it actually looks like. If we don’t bring it down to earth, we set ourselves up to be disappointed with each other. Thanks so much for adding to the conversation, Susan.

  • Thanks Jesse, I learn so much from you. You put things in way that make sense (common sense). We often over analyze a problem and solution before actually moving forward. It was nice to read an expert telling us it is okay that “we do not need to have it all figured to take steps.” Taking steps create team synergy.

    Sincerely,
    Patricia

  • This is a wonderful article. What I love is that you have offered a practical step by step process. I have staff training coming up for all of our summer programs and this article will be a cornerstone of our staff orientation/training. Thank you!

  • Having a vision is important, but if you’re the only one who has it, there’s precious little good that it does your team. Thanks for sharing these tips about how to share visions, dreams, and ideas with your team and, as a bonus, improve them in the process.

    That’s why I included this post in my weekly selection of top leadership posts from the independent business blogs.

    http://bit.ly/lh1ZUJ

  • [...] and in their own lives. One of the most mindful posts I’ve read was Jesse Lyn Stoner’s 7 Tips For Sharing Your Vision With Your Team.  I have always promoted a collaborative positive environment  but she reminded me that [...]

  • Jesse,

    I can’t even begin to tell you how frustrated it makes me (as a lower-level employee) when management feels that they must iron out all of the details of anything new, only to have finished it last minute and then regurgitate the training at the team. Everyone sits there with a dumbfounded look, wondering why this is so last-minute and why no one was ever notified about the situation beforehand (when they knew the manager had known about it long before).

    If you want buy-in, allowing the team to help with the development efforts is a key to obtaining it. People love being included, even if they have little say. At least they were heard and management respected them enough to let them have some say before the mandate comes down.

    I actually wrote a post regarding the need for confidentiality, or rather, the lack thereof in many situations a while back if you’re interested:
    http://christian-fey.com/communication/to-combat-leaks-shut-off-the-water/

    • Thanks for your vivid and articulate description of the cost of not involving the team in making decisions. As you said, “If you want buy-in, allowing the team to help with the development efforts is a key to obtaining it.” Also, better decisions are made because the people who need to implement the decisions have a better understanding of what’s needed to be successful. I agree with you that it is important for leaders to trust their people to hold information in confidence. Thanks for sharing your post on that topic, Christian, as well as for adding to the conversation.

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