As an entrepreneur, you’re naturally driven – hence the reason you created a company around your passion and expertise! When you start hiring, it’s easy to assume others will share your passion; or alternatively, to believe that job skills are what matters most.
Both strategies tend to lead to frustrations with fit. The single most powerful way to improve fit in your hiring process is to create a company vision. The best company vision is inspiring; both achievable – and a stretch. It gives meaning to a days work, and a greater purpose to the task at hand. Lest that sound too new-agey, it also holds practical value in terms of helping potential employees self-select. Here’s an example based on a well-known company in Southeast Michigan – Zingerman’s.
Let’s pretend you’re on a job search and looking for a job in a restaurant. You find an opening at Zingerman’s, and read the Zingerman’s 20/20 Vision. If you’re passionate about great food and all the details that go into it – from relationships with growers to fanatical customer service – you’ll feel instantly at home. If on the other hand, you think they sound a little bit TOO crazy about food, chances are you’ll skip applying for a job there and head somewhere else. Viola! A strong vision creates a self-selecting screening tool.
To learn more about the Zingerman’s way of creating a vision, attend their workshop: Creating a Vision of Greatness.
Another example of great company vision that sticks with me is from NASA – what the Harvard Business Review calls “The Man On the Moon Standard“. You can read about their analysis of why it’s so great; in my humble opinion the best part is hearing the example of a man who was asked what his job was at the Kennedy Space Center. This man, a custodian, wasn’t sweeping floors – he was “putting a man on the moon”. THAT is the sign of an inspiring vision.
Ready to create your vision? I appreciate it’s no small task, so here are a few more resources to help:
- First off, make sure to carve out some real alone time to think. After all, a vision is unlikely to come to you in the break between your 1 pm and 2 pm meetings. Use a weekend if you must, but give your brain a chance to switch gears and get in creative mode. The harder you’ve been cramming 2001 tasks into a day, the longer break you’ll likely need to create space for ideas to flow.
- Check out the downloads on Jim Collin’s site. Among them is the Vision Framework. About 8 pages in are examples of BHAGs (Big, Hairy, Audacious Goals), which are effectively the same as a Company Vision.
- For more context about why vision is so critical to the ultimate success of your company, take a look at the review of Patrick Lencioni’s new book “The Advantage” by the Awesome Culture Blog. Feel free to read the book, too – this review simply serves as a nice summary if you happen to prefer the Cliffs Notes version.
Good luck creating your vision!