The Middle Management Role in Connecting a Vision

If you are working on something exciting that you really care about, you don’t have to be pushed. The vision pulls you.” – Steve Jobs

All too often we see the general workforce, who aren’t always privy to the day to day meetings and monthly reviews, miss out on what allows us to see how mission statements and visions are connected in long term initiatives and projects. Or how results show that we are progressing towards a common goal.

How do we connect that to them and the rest of the team?

What is the definition of a vision statement and mission statement?

A vision statement and mission statement is something that leads the company in everything they do. It guides others on how to think, how to act and how to influence their decision making. A vision and a mission statement is one of the most important things a company needs to get right to be successful and sustainable. It is a statement to the employees and customers as to why they are in business. It is the foundation of what every strategic pillar should fall upon. If you get your vision right and you get your people bought into your vision then you are on the first step to success.

A vision might include how you want to change the world, what effect you want to have on your customers or even how you want to upset the status quo – the latter pretty much being Apple’s vision.

But what so many companies and leaders get wrong is their vision. Many start off without just hoping to make sales and money as a result. As middle managers,it is an extremely difficult task to carry an already possibly blurred message to the workforce below but that’s who connects the vision, the middle managers.

Here are some great vision or mission statement examples which connect to core values from some leading brands including apple’s vision and nike’s vision.

Apple's vision mission statement and core values
Apple’s Vision
Nike's vision mission statement and core values
Nike’s Vision

What are company values?

What are company values and why are they important to you? Every company I have worked for have spread across the walls the company ‘values’. You’ll recognise some of these – ‘team spirit’ ‘respect’ ‘care for the environment’ ‘customer first’ ‘We learn together’ ‘integrity’ ‘involvement’. They’re all fantastic when applied and believed but what the hell do they all mean and why does it matter to me and my team?

I know I am supposed to work as a team that’s been drummed into me since my first football session on the rose and crown playing field.

I know I should have integrity, my parents brought me up on honesty and principles so that’s a given, respect each other is part of day to day life not just in this business.

So why would anyone actually take notice of these values when there seems to be no meaning to them? Why would anyone take notice when there’s no one driving them and giving them meaning to the day to day.

What is lost sometimes in business is the vision that connects these values. Without that, it’s just a sign on a wall saying ‘company values’ – I’ll know it’s there, I may even recite a couple of you ask me, but does it dictate my day to day workmanship – probably not.

The CEO, the board, the owners they know the vision – it may even form part of strategic pillars and objectives, some of which you, as middle managers, will be directly responsible for. After that it’s up to us to deliver the message to the tens, hundreds of people underneath you and try to deliver that vision.

Do I care that my company’s vision is that they want to be the most sustainable, efficient and consumer focused fish business in the country? Yes I do, I understand the Why and the values that connect them.

Does Denise working a 9-5 putting fish in a tray care? Maybe not.

So it’s up to the middle managers to transpire that vision to ensure that from top to bottom we are working toward the same goal and working for something that we are passionate about, that’s how we produce our best work. Remember that famous Mark Twain quote?

“Find a job you enjoy doing, and you will never have to work a day in your life.”

Find your employees values and connect them to activities

We need to find the passion from our team.

How the hell do you do that?

Every single person has their own values, passions and principles, some maybe money orientated, some family, some are more material. We all have these different principles and passions which drive us day to day. In any business, it’s important to stay connected from top to bottom. I am a firm believer that you should never get disconnected from any hierarchal point within the business which we see all too often. You see colleagues getting promoted and the natural aspect of moving up the ladder the more you tend to ‘lose touch’ with the day to day operation as they start to look further into the future and forget the now. But to spend 30-40 minutes a week even a month is not much for any executive to have a conversation with people like Denise, but that 30-40 minutes not only makes Denise’s week but it will also send ripples spread throughout the business. They talk in the canteen about the discussion, the front line managers or supervisors will take note of your example and staff will know you care about their job they’re doing which reinforces the pride they have.

Example of how one of those conversations might go–

Vision – be the most sustainable, efficient and consumer focused fish business.

Values – respect for the environment

Objective – decrease waste by 10%

‘Do you know Denise if you got the fish in the pack right first time every time you would reduce our business plastic waste by 0.4% therefore reducing global CO2 emissions? Every rejected pack is a pack not thrown into landfill. Imagine 40,000 packs into a landfill over the course of the years. If you get that right Denise, you are doing your bit on saving the planet and respecting the environment, that’s why what you do matters – directly.’

Denise now has purpose, she connects the companies value of respect for the environment directly to her day job, she now understands that by being efficient at her job she could actually have a positive impact on the environment.

Now it’s not just a sign on the wall that has no meaning to her. She knows how she can help and she is bought into the company vision and values. See what a 5 minute conversation can do?

Yes, this is a basic example and I’m not saying it’s always that easy, absolutely it isn’t but you get my point. By finding out your teams personal passion you can connect it to the company values and ultimately the companies vision, and that’s our job as middle managers. If we are aligned from top to bottom that’s when we get a high performing business.

Another thing I try to do is encourage the junior level managers, supervisors and team leaders to spend time getting to know their teams in and develop relationships through quick 121s. This helps them understand their values which they can use to encourage and motivate them and develop their skill level. Ultimately connecting the values.

Creating your own vision

So there’s connecting the company vision to your team. But what about your own? Can you have your own vision? Something that you feel passionate about that links with the companies values or mission statement? Do you want to know how to create a vision with your team?

This is something that I am working with my new team currently about how about we take all those company values and make them into something that drives us to perform, to find that passion and influence our own mission statement. We discuss what that means to us and we then personalise them for more understanding.

Whenever we take leadership into a team, ultimately you would like to leave it in a much better state than when you first arrived. Personally, I like to challenge the norm, be a better team today than we were tomorrow. It’s likely that the team haven’t been subject to much change, the processes, procedures and ways of working are dated. We should ask the question, do you find value in what you do on a day to day basis or has it just become ‘what we do around here’?

The full team should have a voice in how we deliver our daily objectives and that company vision. There is a fantastic story written by Stephen Covey in The 7 Habits of highly effective people, where he checked into a hotel, a chain that he always uses, but this hotel was different. This hotel’s employees seemed but all over the customer service, stopping whatever they were doing to ensure the customer received the best experience possible, this was seen in many interactions with himself and other customers during his stay. When he probed, he found that the whole team had come together to designed their own mission statement based on the location and customer base, which they kept in their pocket at all times and they all had involvement in creating, so the buy in was easy. Of course this was connected to the chains overall vision and mission statement but they tailored it to drive their passions and people.

This is where your team can step up to experience building teams and improving processes. Find values, principles and passion from their team to get the best performance. We want the team to operate at a higher level to give us the headspace to look into future ways of working, to focus on the long term goals.

Why? What happens next is a self sustaining team who are building their own career paths, exploring new ideas and maybe even innovating which will all help to making your business more profitable. Its also important the team to start setting examples for other teams in the business, they should constantly continue to raise the bar. If not, we will lose our competitive edge. This is why change is also so important.

So as middle managers, don’t lose touch, have those conversations with your team no matter if its lowest branch on the tree or your direct reports. Ensure the company vision is known throughout your team and connect the dots. But don’t stop there, personalise your vision, build it with your team and give them a sense of belonging, pride and passion in their day to day activities.

One response to “The Middle Management Role in Connecting a Vision”

  1. […] have written I previous blogs about company values and vision. This is the point where you really hammer them home and introduce them to new team members. […]


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One response to “The Middle Management Role in Connecting a Vision”

  1. […] have written I previous blogs about company values and vision. This is the point where you really hammer them home and introduce them to new team members. […]


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