Organizational VisionJeannine Bennett
5 Reasons Why Employees in Your Organization May Not Embrace Your Vision
You are a GREAT leader. There is no doubt about it! You have worked hard to cultivate a culture of respect within the organization. You speak with clarity every time you convey a message. You meet with your employees every chance you get. You work hard to inspire and challenge others because you know your employees come to work to make a difference just like you. You and your employees are ONE TEAM working together for the greater good; you feel it. You are an inclusive leader who is open and honest; people trust you. You are authentic. How then is it that employees are not embracing your vision? Unfortunately, this is not an easy question to answer. The reality is there could be many reasons. Below I offer five common reasons for you to consider:
1. Culture Does Not Support the Vision
YOU are a GREAT leader so I know you are doing everything you can to change the culture but you know it is going to take time because deep down you also know those issues did not develop overnight. They occurred little by little over time resulting in the culture you are dealing with today. Hence, before you can get people to truly embrace your vision, you have to make significant strides in fixing the culture. Disagree? Think of it this way, culture happens EVERY DAY while vision is about ONE DAY. One day in the very distant future. If you want people to buy-in to your proposed future you have to create a supportive culture so they will be ready and willing to do so. Bottom line: if you want to make your vision for the organization a reality you need your workforce to embrace it or it will never be fulfilled. It will sit on a shelf collecting dust like other unimportant, outdated documents.
If you can honestly say you have done everything in your power to create that supportive culture but things are still moving slowly, then keep on reading as I shed some light on other potential culprits.
2. Ineffective Leadership within the Organization
An indicator that your efforts are being undermined can be seen by examining your inner leadership circle. If you have any “yes” people on the team then you have found a big offender. Yes, people tend to be individuals that do not have the courage to tell you there is a problem. Here is what I have witnessed many times in my 30-year career. A leader promotes a resolution for a known issue. The “yes” people know it will fail based on previous attempts, but rather than tell that leader of their concerns they just agree. This does no one any good. The leader fails, the problem is exacerbated, time is wasted and precious resources are expended. Do that enough times and issues just pile up one on top of another. Bottom line: Yes, people are ineffective leaders.
If you do not feel “yes” people are your problem then, check for the “know it all individuals disguised as leaders” on staff. You can identify those individuals by the way they treat others. Instead of being helpful they tend to be your negative naysayers. Raise a challenge and they are the first to say it can’t be done. If the staff has a solution they shoot it down because it doesn’t align to their agendas. Staff products containing relevant and timely content is revised to the point the intent is lost or the product is discarded altogether because it does not paint a picture the “know it all” wants to paint. Reality is this: these individuals have reached a particular milestone and have decided to no longer give back. Instead they are going to ride the gravy train until retirement. They have pretty much checked out and really only offer advice when it suits them.
Here is the truth of the matter: YOU may be a GREAT leader but not everyone is which means some of those individuals in leadership roles within your organization may be causing some problems that you are not even aware of. Yes, you convey your message with clarity. Yes, you are genuine when you do so. Yes, your employees trust and respect you. Yes, you have done all the right things. However, none of that matters if you have ineffective leaders on staff that go behind you and share a very different message. They tell your workforce to take a different approach and convince them that what you stated was taken out of context. They tell your workforce they misunderstood your message and follow up by giving them new guidance. In fairness, I don’t think those ineffective leaders are doing it to deliberately sabotage your efforts. I don’t think they care enough. I truly believe somewhere along their leadership journey they stopped listening. In this case, rather than ask you for additional clarity regarding your vision they go with what they know. Unfortunately, what they know is very different from what you have conveyed. By continuing to use the “go with what you know” approach to leadership a communication disconnect inevitably occurs. This is where vision and strategy gets lost and employees get confused.
3. Old Strategy is Overriding the Current Vision
If employees are confused about the current strategy it is natural for them to revert to what they know. Don’t believe me? I encourage you to walk around the organization and ask your employees about a task they do regularly. Ask them why they do what they do. You will most likely get the following response, “because that is the way we have always done it.” Clinging to old strategy keeps people stuck in the past and when you are stuck in the past you can’t even begin to think about the future.
4. Workforce is Distracted
If your workforce is distracted they won’t move forward on your vision either. Let me put it this way they have seen your vision posted but can’t get past all of the other issues to even think about trying to implement it. Truth be told, they have heavy issues on their mind. Below is a sampling of concerns vying for your employees’ attention and there is nothing you can do about it.
– Aging Parents
– Unifying the Country
– Other: (fill-in-the-blank) _______________________
Truth is people are going to be distracted by the outside world. As a GREAT leader, the best thing you can do is create an environment where your employees want to work. Make your employees feel valued, respected, included and heard and the distractions will become less while the focus on the organization’s mission will become more.
5. Obstacles Exist
Maybe you are not dealing with any of those items previously mentioned. The culture within the organization is supportive. You have top notch leaders such as yourself, strategy is current and your workforce is not distracted. How awesome for you and your organization! Yet, your vision is still not being embraced. How can that be? I offer one additional reason that is most likely the culprit, obstacles. Obstacles that prevent your workforce from moving out on your vision include the lack of: resources, time, experience or courage. If to make your vision a reality requires resources you don’t have then you have tied your employees’ hands. Same goes for their time. If you are running a skeleton crew as a result of previous cuts and those remaining members are already doing two or three additional jobs it is unfair to require them to add another one. There just isn’t enough time in a day. If your vision requires experience not currently held by anyone on your staff, you are setting them up for failure. Let me tell you nothing squashes a vision quicker than employees who feel defeated before they ever get started. Lastly, do you know if your workforce has the courage to take on the vision you have introduced. People want to rise to the occasion but fear can be a huge obstacle especially if your vision is not well understood. Fear also arises as a result of ineffective leadership as mentioned in item number 2. If an employee continually provides top-notch work that gets discarded, how much longer do you think that employee will continue to contribute?
YOU are a GREAT leader so you know that an inspiring vision embraced by all employees is necessary for the success and longevity of the organization. I hope this article has helped you identify some reasons as to why your employees might not be 100% on board with your vision. The good news is YOU are that GREAT leader so there is nothing you can’t overcome, you care too much! How do I know? You read this article and probably many others in an effort to form a solution to the challenge you are encountering. Now that is a GREAT LEADER!
I am cheering for you!
Dr. Jeannine Bennett