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Failure to interpret mission, vision can affect efficiency

SOMETIME last year I was involved in conducting a training workshop for an institution that wanted certain skills imparted to its workforce.

Since I was aware that the institution had clearly spelt-out vision and mission statements, I asked the workshop participants, as a way of establishing a foundation for the workshop, to tell me the mission and vision statements.
When the answers came, they ranged from total ignorance to total misrepresentation. Not one participant could tell me, even in paraphrased form, either the mission or vision statement of their employer. But I was not surprised because it was déjà vu:  most workers cannot tell you the vision or mission of the organisation they work for.
Let us bring it closer home:  can you say off cuff what the mission or vision statement of your organisation is? How can you work for an institution – especially at a high level – and not know or interpret the mission or vision statement?
The point I am driving home, I suppose, is that the failure to study, understand and properly interpret mission and vision statements by employees or members of a team can have adverse effects on the efficiency of the organisation or company. Put differently, it can cause the abortion of the dream of the organisation or company. How do you expect employees who do not know or understand the mission or vision statement to move things forward? The mission statement, after all, deals with the purpose of the organisation – that is, the present – while the vision statement outlines the organisation’s strategic intent, or what it sees itself becoming in the near or distant future.
In some cases it is even worse: some organisations exist without even a clear mission or vision; they just do whatever comes their way and lack direction and focus. All they will tell you is the general statement that they hope to make progress, but forget that progress is not possible without a clear mission and vision.
There is, however, another category of workers:  they know the mission and vision statement because, of course, they have memorised it; but they have not made it a part of their work culture. It just amounts to empty memorised knowledge which does not influence their work attitude or philosophy. There are also some employees who know the mission or vision statement, but do not believe (in) it.
Any organisation that wants to make positive progress must ensure that its employees understand and believe (in) the message of the mission and vision. You cannot expect people who do not believe in your vision to help attain it.
The mission and vision statements should not be treated as mere slogans – and as we know many organisations, especially service providers, are prone to doll out slogans meant more for wooing customers than pleasing them. Just the other day I went to the offices of a service provider to follow up a query. No one could deal with my issue competently, and I found myself being ushered from one office to another – but in the process of being ushered around, some words written on a door to one of the offices caught my attention:
I could not resist an inner smile of amusement. If what I was experiencing indeed meant “getting things done,” then I needed to revisit my understanding of the Queen’s language.
Come to think of it, most service providers have lofty slogans which, to a large extent, are mere empty rhetoric because the workers either do not believe in them, or do not work in line with them. Some slogans can fool you into thinking you the customer are the most important item in the room. Slogans, after all, are not what get things done – it is the workers.