Many years ago I worked at a wonderful company owned by two brothers. This was a regional company, but as time progressed, we realized that we had the skills to be much more. We began meeting and developed a plan to become a national force within one segment of our industry.
We started with just a vague idea. That idea soon turned into a plan, and with some hard work, long hours we soon had what we felt was a good strategic plan. We invited more people into our group, and bounced our ideas off them. We polished all the rough edges, honed our best ideas and discarded others, and soon we had a vision.
This shared vision became a driving force for us. We soon began to see modest success. Small successes were followed by larger gains. Our successes began to build and within just a few short years we became nationally recognized in this sector of our business. We became a national player and regularly beat out even our largest competitors.
Such is the power of a shared vision to drive results. Our vision took a great group of employees and molded us into high performance work team. Problems became challenges to be overcome, not insurmountable obstacles that would defeat us. Only years later have I come to realize how rare this is. While many businesses talk about vision, few are able to develop a shared vision, and even fewer are able to capitalize on that vision to achieve outstanding results.
The best companies not only do things right…they do the right things, both from a business perspective but also from a moral and ethical point of view as well. Here are seven things that the highest performers do differently from their peers:
- Hire the right people – In the book “Good to Great” Jim Collins calls this getting the right people on the bus and getting them in the right seats on the bus. When hiring you need to make sure you have the right competencies, but you need to do much more. People need to be competent and compatible. You need to develop a group that can see your vision, share your vision, and work successfully with others to implement that vision. When hiring an assistant years ago, one applicant asked me what the primary qualification was for this job. I thought for a moment and said, “I need to have someone I can work with successfully every day”. It is the same when you hire. Highly competent employees are needed, but highly compatible employees are needed even more.
- Take the time to build a consensus around your desired expectations – develop a shared vision. A shared vision must be shared by all in the group, and their input must be valued. As you look at all aspects of your vision, you will need to polish it, and pound it out. This will mean accepting new ideas, and discarding some ideas you once thought vital to success, as you work with your team to develop a truly shared passion and direction.
- Define your desired outcomes in detail – When you start to move, everyone needs to know what direction the organization is headed. We can’t make every decision in advance. A well-defined direction and outcome helps all employees make better decisions every day.
- Leave methods to your team – Define desired outcomes to your team. Let them determine their own methods to achieve those results.
- Make quick course corrections when necessary – There may be times when you find that you are veering off course. When this happens make quick course corrections to bring the company back to your shared vision. Don’t wait until you have veered off the road, rather make small, constant, corrections that keep you moving towards your vision.
- Build transparency and trust – Transparency is the willingness of everyone to share ideas and information so that the entire group knows how we are progressing in key areas. Trust is knowing that you can depend on everyone in the group to work for our shared vision. Trust makes good relationships great and allows us to move forward without second guessing the motives of team members. Transparency communicates in a way that builds that trust and creates lasting bonds between members of the group.
- Reward others for your successes, but take the blame for failures – Along the way there will be many failures and successes. Take the blame for the failures and truly own them. Learn from them and move on. When success comes your way, share it openly. Praise and reward others as you succeed. This enhances your vision and empowers your team.
It has been many years since I worked at that wonderful company. Most of the members of that original team have moved on as well, while some have remained with the company as it grew, and was later acquired by a much larger company.
The members of our team, however, continue to have a shared bond. We became much more than co-workers or associates. Our shared vision brought many rewards to all of us. But the greatest reward was knowing that we had done something great, something we once thought impossible, or at least improbable. It changed all of us for the better.
Scott Murray is a performance coach and consultant to building service contractors and service companies looking to provide outstanding experiences through amazing customer service. He continues to help his clients develop a Shared Vision that motivates and empowers all employees