Where is This Place Called Nirvana?
Every organization these days has mission and vision statements. We all learn them at orientation. Some companies insist we wear them on name tags or "buddy badges." Others have them plastered in elevators, hallways and in conference rooms.
Everyone wants to be the "provider of choice" or something similar. Everyone respects patients and strives to exceed customer expectations. Very loft aims, no doubt.
The problem with mission and vision statements is that they are more practiced in the breach than in observance. They tend to be words on a page or a wall and not much else. As I speak with employees around the country the one theme is that many organizations are "not what they profess to be."
Recently an employee of a large multinational healthcare company told me there was an ongoing raffle to have lunch with the CEO. She wants to win the raffle simply to ask him "Where is this place called..... (her company)?" She is sick and tired of all the platitudes and self-congratulatory messages that are beamed by emails and monthly announcements from the CEO, when her daily work life reflects anything but that picture perfect life claimed by the CEO.
I have always advocated that organizations check the pulse of current employees from time to time. Exit interviews are great, but they are often relatively few in number, and sentiments can too easily be chalked up to the complaints of disgruntled employees.
Employers need to know why employees stay with the company, not just why they leave. Leaders need to get an honest assessment periodically of life in the trenches. As in that fable, very often the emperor has no clothes but fear or group-think prevents anyone from speaking up to decision-makers; who then parade around proudly assuming everything is fine. Even worse they delusionally hold their company up as a model of perfection when their employees know otherwise.
As we enter a new year, if you are a decision maker, please make a pledge to solicit feedback regularly; and take it constructively. Act on it, rather than blame the messenger. Maybe you should make that one resolution your very first mission for 2012.