One of the best things about working for a diverse company is the sheer variety of personalities, opinions, and approaches on display. It’s what makes every company unique and every day a challenge, and lets us learn from those around us in new and worthwhile ways.
But amongst this melting pot of styles and identities, there needs to be clarity and cohesion; a bigger picture that lets collaboration flourish and goals remain in view. With a unified vision statement, managers and leaders can bring the differing skills and methods of their employees together. And when that happens, it’s possible to create teams with real direction whose members feel valued and engaged every single day.
Looking for greater alignment and team morale? We’ll show you how to write a vision statement designed to give your team real purpose and direction for the future.
What is a vision statement?
A vision statement is a short description of an organisation or team’s aspirations and the impact it strives to create. In this regard, it gives employees something to focus their efforts on, lays the foundation for internal decision-making, and provides a clearer sense of direction.
Because it has its sights set on the future, a vision statement emphasises the team’s overall purpose. It should detail what the team wants to achieve, what it wants to become, and what they (or the company as a whole) should look like after it has accomplished its goals.
Vision statements also have a timeless quality to them, often remaining unchanged even if the team or organisation changes its strategy. Crucially, however, their message should be uplifting and inspiring, communicating what the team values both inside and outside of the company.
When it comes to writing them, questions that guide vision statements include:
• What are our hopes and dreams for the team?
• What problems do we want to solve?
• Who and what are we inspiring to change?
What is the difference between a vision statement and a mission statement?
If a vision statement is what gives the team direction, then a mission statement is what drives it. By outlining what the team does and what its key objectives are, a strong mission statement defines the day-to-day activities of work and what each member contributes to the overall mission.
The crucial difference between mission and vision statements, however, is their respective timelines. While a degree of overlap can occur, a mission statement tends to define what the team is doing right now. A vision statement, on the other hand, looks at what the team would like to accomplish.
Basically, the mission covers the what and the how, while the vision covers the why.
Since mission statements can change in tandem with the circumstances or needs of a team, they can be used to manage employee duties, actions, and behaviours. Put simply, they can adapt to changes the team undergoes.
Vision statements, with their future-minded, goal-oriented purpose, aren’t especially effective at directing individual behaviour and expectations with regards to day-to-day activities. Instead, they are there to give employees an idea of what the team wants to accomplish.
It’s important to remember that companies have both. Both kinds of statements depend on each other because purpose (or mission) and meaning (or vision) are integral to the success of any business.
How to write an inspiring vision statement
Make the writing process a group effort
There’s no ‘I’ in team. Attempting to go solo on a team vision statement, even if you’re a manager, is unlikely to produce cohesive results. By involving your team in the writing process, the group’s vision is much more likely to take hold – you’re all contributing to a collective vision for the team’s future, after all.
Organise a team meeting and make the vision statement a priority. Emphasise the statement will have a positive effect on your workflow and teamwork, that allows everyone to be more focused after the fact.
Incorporate your company’s values
Part of your team vision statement is appropriately reflecting each team member’s goals and aspirations, but it should also align with your company’s values. Keep your company’s mission statement and goals in mind when writing the vision statement. This way, your team will be able to represent and demonstrate the best of what your company has to offer.
Without this alignment, your vision statement may have the opposite effect and end up leading to demotivated team members.
Make sure your goals are actionable and achievable
In writing about your team’s future aspirations, a team vision statement must be practical. To make sure it’s as practical as possible, the goals within must also be actionable and achievable. The best way to do this is by using the SMART framework. SMART goals should be:
• Specific – your goals need to be clear and specific. Specificity lets you hone in your objectives with greater precision.
• Measurable – you should be able to track the progress of your goals. When you can assess the progress you’re making, it helps you stay focused, reach deadlines, and gain a sense of achievement upon completing them.
• Attainable – Ideally, your goals should stretch your skills but still be achievable. In other words, are they realistic?
• Relevant – Do the goals you’ve created align with the needs of your team and the company as a whole? If not, you might need to go back to the drawing board and come up with something different.
• Time-bound – With a deadline to focus on, there’s less chance of everyday tasks taking priority over the longer-term goals your team has agreed on.
Keep things simple
Whatever your team does on a daily basis, the vision statement you create should be as simple as possible. Focus on keeping things short, succinct, and memorable.
A simplified approach will not only help make these group sessions more effective, but it’ll also help to remove any ambiguities or unnecessary words that might end up confusing or diluting your statement.
Re-draft what you’ve written
While the first draft of your team vision statement will set out some form of future your team can work towards, it’s unlikely to be the finished article. Refining and fine-tuning what you have should get you closer to the end product, so allow everyone on the team to provide feedback and come up with suggestions on how to improve it.
After writing several versions, each team member must agree with the wording of your vision. The statement should resonate with every one of your team, achieving a balance that unites your colleagues and motivates them in their work from that point on.
Examples of team vision statements
Before you begin creating your own vision statement, get some inspiration going with the help of these existing vision statements from some of the world’s most well-known companies:
• Tesla: To accelerate the world’s transition to sustainable energy
• TED: We believe passionately in the power of ideas to change attitudes, lives and ultimately, the world
• PepsiCo: Be the global leader in convenient foods and beverages by winning with purpose
• Disneyland: Create a place for people to find happiness and knowledge
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