Solving the “my team doesn’t get my vision” problem
“F&%*, they just don’t get it.”
I was chatting with a founder CEO last week and asked him if his organization had a clear mission and vision. His answer was a definitive ‘yes’ as he proceeded to rhyme off his intention for the company. Thirty minutes later I asked the same question of a key team member. Her responsibilities include communicating the company message abroad. Her response? ‘NO!’. She went on to elaborate on the confusion and frustration she experiences as a result.
How is it that your simple and compelling vision for your company’s future is so illusive to others? There is one prediction that I can make with 100% certainty. Your team doesn’t see your vision with the same vivid colour and crisp detail that you do.
So much time and money wasted. Hours of work by a team with limited contribution to the founder’s vision.
Last month I found myself at Peggy’s Cove on Canada’s east coast. It’s a quaint spot. Photographers and artists flock to the area to capture the essence of life by the sea. During my visit, a collection of painters had gathered for the day to share their passion. Easels dotted the landscape throughout the tiny village. Many of the artists were set up side by side looking out over the same landscape.
As I walked around, it struck me how different each painting was developing on the canvases. These artists were looking at the exact same landscape. Yet none of the pictures looked remotely similar. One artist was painting only in shades of red and pink. Another was capturing the broadest view possible in watercolour. Yet another had zoomed in on a small boat in the harbour. Some of the artists painted the finest details. Others aimed to capture the essence of the scene with broad strokes.
Which artist was right? When it comes to art, personal preference is in the eye of the beholder.
For leaders aiming to align a team to a common goal, a shared perspective becomes the lynch pin of success. When you believe everyone sees your vision with the same clarity that you do, you are blind to reality.
Known as “Naïve Realism”, you risk believing that you see reality as it really is. To you, the facts are plain for all to see. The result is the False Consensus Effect. You will overestimate the degree to which others agree with you. And you will have a team that’s busy wasting their time and your money.
Getting everyone on-board
Ready to get everyone on-board with your vision? Here’s how.
- Take time to clarify your vision. It sounds so simple, but it’s rarely done. Write it down. Let it sit. Review it again. Share it with a close confidant or your coach. Have them ask questions and probe for detail. Bring your vision to life with as much detail as you can. Write about the areas that are foggy, unclear. Like an artist, you are creating your unique painting of the landscape.
- Share your ‘painting’ with the team. In writing. In diagrams. In company meetings. In team meetings. Prompt questions. Answer questions.
- Share it again. Frequency is critical. You will know that your team has heard you when they start mocking you.
- Have each person on your team share their ‘painting’ with you. Ask questions. Invite team members to share their thoughts in the way that works for them. Some will white board. Others will send an email.
- Build alignment. Start merging your ‘paintings’ together.
- Scenario test. Talk through scenarios with your team. Ask how they are thinking about the scenario based on their understanding of your vision.
The most successful teams get aligned. All the others waste valuable time thinking they are aligned.
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