During a breakfast meeting with a client we were discussing the importance of your business’s vision statement, and I remembered a story that I thought I would share. The story involves a situation that taught me the best intentions can be lost if you do not create a shared vision behind what you are trying to do.
I was working at a business that was doing very well, and we were looking at relocating it to a new state-of-the-art facility. We had the funding and the freedom to do things right – to create the best fit for service facility that ever existed. We had the chance to start from scratch and nothing was in our way. How many people get this chance? How many companies dream of this situation? We had the chance of a lifetime to build this new facility, improve inefficiencies, and pull everyone together.
So what did we do? How did we go about creating this new facility? Well that’s where the story takes a major twist. I took over. I did not give me the chance to do the required work. I made all the key decisions, chose the final design, and executed the construction. Don’t get me wrong, I did involve key staff in some decisions, but not as many I could have, which was to my detriment. Maybe it was because it would have taken some extra effort, and everyone (including me) was already stretched too thin. Maybe it was because I did not fully understand the opportunity I had to create something beyond just a few walls, a floor, and a roof. There were problems with how I completed the project, but they did not show themselves immediately.
The project was completed, we moved in, and “my vision” was realized. The final product was amazing. Anyone who toured through the facility stated how remarkable it was. From the glass curtain walls in the office to the layout of the overhead cranes in the shop, to the colourfully painted steel superstructure inside the workshop area, it turned out better than I could have ever hoped for. I was excited to see how the new facility would improve morale, cement our culture, and drive us to an even brighter future.
What happened next floored me. I did not see a lot of change in morale. If anything the sense of community I hoped to create was driven further away. I started to hear people say that things were easier in our old location, and it seemed like some people wished they could be back there. When I had an opportunity to discuss why there was some resistance to the new facility, I received some enlightening feedback. What I heard was that our new facility wasn’t really our new facility; it was my vision, and it was my shop.
It’s not often in life you gain as clear an understanding of concepts as I did in this situation. I realized then and there that when you are making a major change, it is critical to engage the people affected by the change if you want it to be a complete success.
If I would have taken a bit more time to include more people in the process, I could have created a shared vision. By involving more people in the process, I would have pulled our organization closer and fostered the culture of teamwork I was looking for.
Look for these opportunities to pull your team closer. We all want better cultures in our organizations, and many of us endlessly wonder how this can be done. Be more inclusive in what you do. Your people want to help. Let them. You would be amazed with the great ideas they have, and by including them in the process you can reduce the stress on yourself. It may take a bit more time, but I hope my story can help you see it’s time worth taking.