What do you think is the best way to communicate with your team in a way where they can remember the vision you have for your department?
WHAT YOU WILL LEARN
Imagine that you live in a community where no one reads and no one writes. If you lived in a community like that, how would you pass information along from one generation to the next? How would you ensure that information exists for thousands of years?
Let’s say some people in your community get sick and there’s some sort of medication that can help them get well. How do you ensure that generations following yours receive the vitally important information about this certain plant or root that can help them get well? How do you share it in a way that it can be remembered, passed on, and that people have the ability to recall it with ease?
That that last thought there and consider that there are communities in various regions of the world where people have no way to communicate with written language. They have no documents to pass on and show how things work and the history of given events or medical findings. What they use instead is repetition and sequential contexts such as stories, poems, and songs.
Imagine that everyone in your department lacks the ability to read and write. A great way to communicate your vision for your department is through repetition and sequential context. A story might be the best fit for a professional setting such as within your team.
I’m sure you have your vision statement written out somewhere, perhaps on a shared drive somewhere. Obviously, people are not going to deliberately seek that out as something of interest. They might once or twice here and there but not likely on a regular basis. Even if you tried posting it in a public place near your team they may not notice it there either. Think about how many times per day you walk past an advertisement without reading what’s there. How often do you recognize the billboards during your daily commute? Probably not very often. Everywhere we turn there are bombardments of messages trying to grab our attention. It becomes second nature to ignore the incredible amount of information all around us. Often times, if you post your vision statement publically, your teammates will walk right past it without ever knowing it’s there. They may never know what you have stated.
This brings me to the value of over-communicating and using repetition for communicating with your team. Communicating your vision through a story on a regular basis is of high importance to your team so they know where you are heading as a group.
Here’s an example of a story you can put together. Let’s say the vision you have, whether it’s accurate or not for your case specifically, is to become the most profitable department within your company. So you should include: What, Why, and How.
What your vision is, is to become the most valuable department within your company. The “Why” might be that you see other departments within your company that are doing well and others that may not be doing so well. You notice that those who are doing well have all of the resources they need. They also have good relationships with the c-suite as well as with the board. You have they as well for your department. You want your team to experience great success as well for the individuals to see positive results from what they produce. Your “How” might be that your team is building a software as a service (SAAS) and you plan to use that to become the most profitable department in your company.
Your roadmap might be that you need to finish the product within a given number of months or years. Following that, you might need a few years to scale but you plan to take that time to build up your revenue to become the most profitable department in the company.
Take advantage of opportunities to share a story of how their work directly contributed or is going to contribute to the vision. You can use this time to interweave your vision, dreams, and goals for the department into a story that includes their work.
Here’s an example, “Hey everyone, thank you very much for all the hard work you’re putting in. I want to take a moment to recognize so and so for the feature they just completed. The reason why her feature is so important is because it’s going to allow us to build features x, y, and z on top of it. That, in turn, will help us achieve a, b, and c which will lead us into our first three years of having a useable SAAS offering. After 5 years this offering will take us to the point where we are the most profitable department in the company. The reason we want to do this is that no one is doing this, and no one is aiming as high as we are. You are an expert team and we will accomplish our goals in spite of the challenges we face. Great job everyone, and thank you specifically so and so forgetting that feature out the door.”.
That is a great way to take advantage of things that happen regularly to share contextual stories of the vision you have for the department. It is a story that’s contextual, allows people to emotionally connect to the vision, especially the person you just specifically thanked for their hard work. They are going to be hanging on to the vision more now because of the time you took to recognize them. People will understand that accomplishing the vision is where social rewards come from. What’s more is that you are placing the vision within a sequential context.
THE VALUE OF SEQUENTIAL CONTEXT
Sequential context allows us to understand and recall large sums of information without knowing the full level of detail from the outset.
Take the alphabet for example. A, B, C, D, and so on…. Most kids, when learning the alphabet don’t know all of the letters or in which order they come in. That’s perfectly fine though. It’s sequential in nature and should be taught in such a way. All that needs to be understood is that B comes after A, they learn that. Then they learn that C follows B. Once they have that, they know that A is followed by B… and – B is followed by C and they are lead down a sequential towards knowing the full alphabet just by knowing the sequence. This is how we learn songs and stories as well.
Think about when you get home from work and someone asks you how your day went or what you did that day. You may not remember much of the day. How often has that happened? You start trying to remember in sequential order. You don’t even need to know everything that happened that day. All you need to recall is the first thing that happened.
“I went to work, I started talking with my co-worker that sits next to me, then a few of our neighbours came over to join the discussion.. We went on for a while like that. During lunch, we all went out together and continued our talk which went into stuff that we were all doing at home and some of the projects we’re finishing at work currently.” So to share your day, you didn’t need to know the whole story. You just needed to know the beginning to start sharing. The sequence is what helped you recall the rest of your day to tell a compelling story.
So, being able to share your vision in a sequential context such as a story, helps people remember and relate to the future plans you have for the department.
WHAT YOU HAVE LEARNED
I’m curious, for your department, what are you doing to help your team remember and understand the vision you have? What types of things are you doing for your teammates to help them create an emotional connection to your vision? What are you doing to communicate your vision? How often are you sharing the vision, and what situations are you taking advantage of to share stories of how your vision fits into the everyday operations in your department? Comment below to share your answers to these questions. I’m curious to know what you are using to communicate vision with your team.
Take this, create stories, and create an emotional connection. Remember to be sequential when sharing your vision story. As well, use lots of repetition on a regular basis. Weekly, bi-weekly, whatever. It doesn’t matter if it’s perfectly regimented but you want to share as often as possible. Take every opportunity you have. Share what your vision is, share why that vision is important to your team and company, and share how you intend to accomplish that vision.
If you need help with any of this, let me know. No regrets.
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