“We have strong communication in our organization. Our daily briefings discuss all our officers need to know.” Great, but is that communication tied to why you exist and how officers can and do live up to that?
As we go through our Orgametrics® Assessment results with our law enforcement clients, we pay specific attention to results from the first question regarding Communication. It specifically asks whether “we regularly talk about our Mission and Vision”. Leaders are surprised about how low the scores are compared to their perceptions about how they communicate.
We have this question as the first question for a reason. It is very specific and its wording compels readers to pointedly answer about the extent Mission and Vision are communicated.
Command and control organizations like law enforcement depend on top down and same level communication to manage operations. Communications and understanding need to be clear otherwise bad things can happen. This reality brings forth a lot of tactical and procedural communication. Our question does not touch upon that communication process, but on what those communications should be tied to – the Mission for your agency or department.
This tactical vs. mission-connected communication issue is not all that different in the corporate or education sectors. Everyone gets caught up in communicating what is going on now and reacting to the new fire that foundational and mission-focused communication is left on the back burner or for large meetings.
However, working on having a proper mix of mission-driven and specific issue communications is not all that difficult to develop; it’s more of an issue maintaining consistency and intentionality in its application.
How can you weave Mission into your Communications?
Here are a few ways you can start driving better communication of mission and vision in your organization.
- Talk with leadership about stories in their departments that exemplify actions supporting the mission and vision of the organization. Learn about the circumstances, the players, the conflicts, the actions taken and the results. Talk about where the department fell down in acting in accordance with the mission and vision. This is not to give anyone black marks, but to see where there might gaps and a lack of support structures to help employees do the right thing. Ask about what was done, what changes were made or proposed and analyze those stories to look for common threads for greater risks and opportunities.
- Call out your leadership team for actions that connect with mission and vision. You may think they don’t need or appreciate it because they’re in leadership roles. However, they’re human and work hard to meet goals. They feel good when solid work is recognized.
- Develop a plan to recognize and reward those that demonstrate the ideals of the mission and vision. This could be an inexpensive rewards program people can latch onto. It might be a section in regular communications that highlights those that are in alignment.
- Remember that people will behave within parameters that are set for them, consciously or subconsciously. If you reward work that meets a standard, people will work towards it. If you accept substandard work without consequences, they will perform to that.
When communication Mission and Vision becomes more a regular part of what happens, perceptions of leadership improves. People feel more empowered to make the right decisions. There’s less micromanaging going on. People feel more personally accountable and can hold others accountable. Concentrating on this aspect will have ripple effects across the other Orgametrics alignment components.
This is the first step. There are deeper steps to make certain alignment, and department effectiveness is embedded into its culture for the long-term. We’ll talk about that later.