Maintaining Your Balance: Five Survival Tips When Your Job’s Mission and Vision Shift

“Vision without action is a daydream. Action without vision is a nightmare.” –Japanese proverb.

If you’ve spent any amount of time in the world, you know the only true constant is change. Everything evolves, from the NFL, to your favorite TV show, to your family, and to your circle of friends. Even your job will change, no matter whether you hop from place to place or remain in one position your entire career.

Once upon a time, you didn’t have to worry much about the bedrock of your job changing, particularly the mission and vision underlying much of what you do. But as society and technology evolved from roughly 1980 until today, tremors and earthquakes have rocked and even shattered that bedrock, so your footing is rarely solid and assured. This has proven true even in monolithic cultures like Japan, where a salaryman’s job was once more or less guaranteed for a lifetime. No more.

In recent years, mission and vision have changed often in most organizations, even those that have preserved their underlying core values—and they continue to change regularly, as they must. In most cases, those changes are minor, intended to shore up the organization’s values and business in ways ensuring effective competition in a fast-moving business arena. However, no matter how limited the changes, it’s easy to fall into a crack if you’re not careful or end up taking the wrong road… especially if you’ve lost track of your organizational objectives.

You have no choice but to adapt or die when your organization’s mission and vision change. Survival of the fittest doesn’t apply only to the biological world. Here are some ways you can adapt and thrive when mission/vision changes:

  1. Accept that mission/vision must evolve along with your industry. Remember those punch dummies that always pop back up no matter how hard you hit them? You have to be like a punch dummy in today’s business world. These days, your world’s rocked regularly as mission, vision, and even core values shift, and it may happen annually or even more often. If you can’t accept and roll with those changes, and then find your footing quickly and accurately identify the new direction, your productivity will suffer.

  2. Keep an eagle eye on the company’s direction. Revisit your company’s mission and vision often on your own recognizance. You can usually find them somewhere on your company website. Not every leader has the presence of mind or leadership skills to properly explain or even communication a new direction the company might have taken. It’s your duty to listen not just to what your leaders say, but also what they don’t say. Sure, it’s easier just to keep going the same direction, changing direction only when forced to, but inertia may prove your undoing. Once in a while, take a few minutes to be sure you’re going the right way.

  3. Clarify any mission or vision statement that seems confusing to you. Talk to your boss about anything nebulous, too broad, or too complex, and get a solid understanding from them. If they, too, seem confused, you may want to jointly suggest something more easily understandable in layman’s terms. Whatever the case, ask questions if the meaning doesn’t jump out at you, so you don’t make any mistakes when choosing your direction.

  4. Study the new mission and vision closely, so you can familiarize yourself with them, and work your way to acceptance. Eventually, you will internalize the mission and vision, and it will become easier to move forward automatically. Occasional spot checks, per the suggestions above, will keep you on track.

  5. Use the mission and vision to inspire and drive your work. Use them to become more innovative. As one writer recently pointed out, Apple isn’t a computer company any more than Amazon’s a retailer. They may have started out that way, but they’ve become so much more. What kinds of innovations can your mission and vision statements point you toward, especially as your company evolves beyond its original boundaries?

Riding the Tides of Change

The business world is littered with the corpses of companies that failed to evolve their mission and visions as the world changed. Sometimes they’ve taken associated businesses or even entire industries down with them. Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to take a good look at your new mission/vision when they change, find a way to square them with your organization’s core values, and support your team with your excellent productivity.

About Laura Stack, your next keynote speaker:

Laura Stack, MBA, CSP, CPAE is an award-winning keynote speaker, bestselling author, and noted authority on productivity and performance. Funny, engaging, and full of real life strategies that work, Laura will change mindsets and attitudes so your people can maximize productivity, strengthen performance, and get the job done right. Her presentations at corporate events, sales kick-off meetings, and association conferences help audiences improve output, increase speed in execution, and save time in the office. Stack has authored seven books, including her newest work, Doing the Right Things Right: How the Effective Executive Spends Time (Jan. 2016). To have Laura Stack speak at your next event, call 303-471-7401, email [email protected].com, or CONTACT US.

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