Author Archives: Management Associates

Crafting Vision, Finding Vision

Given how frequently the word finds its way into discourse in management circles, it is worth considering what vision is and where it actually comes from. What is the genesis of a vibrant and compelling sense of organizational vision?

It is not uncommon to hear people speak about creating or crafting vision. Such sentiments are not inaccurate per se, but it’s important to understand that true vision is less something that is created than it is excavated from within.

Vision is a thing the roots of which can be found in each one of us already, if we take the time to look. It is something that needs to be found rather than created, something to be articulated rather than crafted.

For some leaders, vision lies near the surface. It is apparent and relatively straightforward to identify and articulate. For others, vision lies a bit deeper and must be unearthed though a more sustained process of inquiry, introspection and discovery.

But either way, the search is a crucial step of the process and ingredient of the final product. The process of looking within, that inventory-taking of personal values, motivations and dreams, allows leaders to find what will not only inspire themselves, but others as well.

So what goes into a compelling vision? Marketplace metrics have a role, but rarely are effective organizational visions entirely or even predominantly defined by them. In a similar vein, money is indispensable to organizational functioning, but the pursuit of profit will never, by itself, create enthusiasm and commitment. Employees do not cherish dreams of growing market share or hold within their hearts aspirations of happy shareholders and smiling board members.

To capture the spirit of employees at its most vibrant and vital, then, leaders need to ask themselves not only why their organization and its products and services do exist, but why they should exist. To pull the best from their employees, they need to answer who really cares if their business exists at all, and why the world is better off with it than without it.

At its highest, vision defines an organization by the contributions it makes to society.  Statements of this kind touch on issues of the personal and the human, considerations that speak to a universal longing for a better future. And it is in these terms, therefore, that leaders can most effectively articulate their organization’s most inspiring understanding of itself and its work.

Vision: The Emotional Connection

Much is said today about the role of vision in the workplace. Unfortunately vision is often approached primarily as a tool to be wielded or tactic to be deployed – a mechanistic and relatively superficial understanding unsuited to the task of  capturing employees’ imagination, enthusiasm, dedication, and commitment. A client once took us on a… Continue Reading

Creating Motivation? Or Creating Conditions Conducive to Motivation?

Countless leaders have wrestled with the issues of motivation. How do I motivate this or that employee? How do I increase collective motivation throughout my office, department, or organization? These questions address important workplace realities. But are the foundations of such inquiry sound? Do leaders actually motivate employees at all? Research has suggested that a… Continue Reading

What Motivates People? (3 of 3)

Previously this series examined those environmental factors that most led to motivation and inhibited it. These might seem like two sides of the same coin, but there are indications that the two are less intertwined than one might guess. Research conducted by Frederick Herzberg suggested that, rather than opposing ends of the same spectrum, they… Continue Reading

What Motivates People? (2 of 3)

We previously explored research that Frederick Herzberg did on primary sources of workplace motivation —  things like achievement, recognition, work itself, responsibility, and growth and development. These findings are valuable in themselves, but Herzberg didn’t stop there. He also asked employees to describe times they had been particularly dissatisfied, uninterested, and unengaged in their work.… Continue Reading

What Motivates People? (1 of 3)

Motivation is a central workplace concern. Countless leaders ponder what stimulates it, how can it be sustained, how is it destroyed. Luckily such questions caught the attention of Frederick Herzberg, an American psychologist who became one of the foremost authorities on business management. Herzberg explored the issue of motivation through hundreds of in-depth, open-ended interviews.… Continue Reading

Motivation, Culture and “Bad Attitude” Employees

Almost nothing is more frequently lamented in management circles than “bad attitude” employees, those people it seems nothing can be done with. It’s true that few workplace dynamics are harder to address than antagonism, apathy and hostility. But rarely mentioned is the role that sincere and well-meaning leaders can play in creating such “bad attitude”… Continue Reading

Employees, Donkeys, and Getting Things Done

In some ways, motivation is less complicated than one might imagine. Involving people in decisions that impact them, recognizing the value of their contributions, giving them opportunities to assume responsibility in meaningful ways — study after study has shown the importance of factors like these. Yet countless workplaces fail to supply such sources of motivation.… Continue Reading

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