In Change, Leaders, Vision

“People often say that motivation doesn’t last.  Well, neither does bathing – that’s why we recommend it daily.” – Zig Ziglar

I had a conversation with a leader a few weeks ago that went something like this.

Leader: “I’m frustrated with our people.”

Me: “Why?”

Leader: ”They don’t understand our vision.”

Me: “Why might that be?”

Leader: “I don’t know.  We talked about it three years ago.  They should remember.”

Believe it or not, I’ve had some version of that conversation dozens, if not hundreds, of times over the past twenty years.  Leaders are frustrated because people don’t understand the vision, or the team goal, or don’t seem particularly engaged with their work.  And the leader blames the people.

Maybe the people aren’t the problem.  Maybe it’s ridiculous to think that you can talk about vision or strategy or goals or motivation or engagement or anything else one time only and expect it to stick.  Maybe a huge part of your job as a leader is to keep talking about those things over and over and over again.

Be honest with yourself:  How often do you talk to your team about the company vision?  Or mission?  Or whatever other important thing you want them to keep in mind at all times?  Once a year?  Only if it changes?  The reality is that most companies make some kind of big deal about that stuff, but only rarely.  The rest of the time it tends to go unmentioned.

You as a leader have a responsibility to be continually talking about what matters to your company.  You need to keep that picture of what you want the business to be in the front of everybody’s mind.  You need to remind people regularly why you exist as a business and what impact you’re trying to have.

The reality is that very few people can hear something one time – or even once a year – and have it stick.  Even if they remember it, if you only talk about it once a year it makes sense that they wouldn’t think it’s all that important.  It’s like anything else you want people to internalize:  repetition, repetition, repetition.

Are you consistently talking about the big things with your team?  If you asked them about the company vision, would they remember what it is?  Do they really understand why your company exists?  If not, don’t blame them.  Look in the mirror.

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