By Jenica Foster

Your company has decided to change its mission, vision, and values. Management’s onboard, but many companies struggle with adoption. Why is it so difficult to change? Because of the very foundation, the company is built upon is moving. First off, make sure everyone is on the same page about what each term means. A Harvard Business Review article helped clear up any confusion.

Mission – What business are we in?

Vision – What do we want to be?

Values – What do we believe in?

Purpose – Why are we here?

There’s a plethora of information online that defines each term in a slightly different way. Don’t waste time debating definitions, pick one and move forward. Once everyone is on the same page about what the terms mean and should represent, it’s a lot easier to start applying them to the company. Brainstorm, throw words out, and then sit back and ask yourself, “Does this represent my company?” From someone who recently worked through this process, here are a few tips to smooth over the transition.

Make it Memorable

Keep your mission, vision, values, and purpose statements short. The easier it is to remember, the more likely it will be adopted.

If you can’t remember what the company’s mission, vision, and values are, how do you expect others to? Further, if they aren’t front of mind when conducting business, what’s the point of creating them? Mission, vision, values, and purpose are intended to be guiding principles that assist in decision making. When they aren’t considered it can lead to high-risk scenarios or a PR nightmare. Make it easy for employees by branding your mission, vision, values, or creating acronyms. Shorter is always better.

Ask for Feedback

You’ve researched and consulted a thesaurus (multiple times), and now have a draft. Ask for feedback from employees at all levels of the organization. Do they think the new values represent the organization? Is the mission and vision easy to understand? Can they relate the statements to their job? Asking for feedback shows that employees are valued and also helps with buy-in. But you might find that employees could care less about these principles because they don’t understand the connection or influence it has on their specific job. This is where a great communicator steps up.

Get the Word Out

Communicators create connections. A strong plan will take management’s philosophy and mold it into a form that makes sense for employees, no matter the skill level. Ensure you talk about why the change is occurring, why it’s important, and how it affects their everyday. Once the initial change has been communicated, develop a plan to plaster the new statements everywhere. The more they see it, the more they will remember it: repetition is key. Graphics, posters, videos, put it on the office wall, whichever form fits your communications plan and will drive results.

Stick to the Change

Culture takes an average of three years to change and develop. That means your communications plan must not only consider the immediate impact, but also how to keep it front of mind for employees six months, one year, and two years from now. Keep in mind that change is slow and there needs to be adequate time to adjust thinking and behaviours to reflect the new mantra. A company’s mission, vision, or values should not be changed every year, but rather when they no longer truly represent the company.

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