If you want employees to buy in to your vision, you have to involve them in creating it, says Craig Erlich.
When Erlich’s company, pulse220, was developing a plan for the future, his key people all had a stake in the outcome of the vision.
“They all have an opportunity to participate in crafting what that vision sounds and feels like,” says Erlich, president and CEO of the marketing and corporate events company that posted 2007 revenue of $10 million.
Yet, before you can get employee buy-in, you have to take charge and put the plan in motion to create the vision.
Smart Business spoke with Erlich about how to develop and communicate a vision for your company.
Q. How do you create a vision?
The first thing is, as a leader, you need to be able to crystallize who you are and what you want to become, and you’ve got to take time out to do that. Once you set in place who you are and what you want to become as an individual, you can look for ways to channel that energy.
I set aside time in my day or my week to really get deep into who we want to become and how we’re going to get there. Then, I repeat it and repeat it and repeat it. Then, I repeat it some more.
Q. How do you crystallize that vision of who you are?
It has a lot to do with determining what your core values are and your guiding principles as a human being. That manifests itself by the things you do and the people that you surround yourself with, whether it’s workwise or personally.
It’s just taking the time and investing the time and really digging deep. There are a variety of ways that are more subjective to do than testing and things like that. I think that’s a good way to provide a baseline. Then the most important thing is acceptance. Maybe it’s not everything you want to be, so you can work toward changing it, but first, you have to accept it.
Q. How do you communicate the vision to employees?
You only hire the people you believe can embrace that vision and those values.
When we interview people, we look first toward, do they share our vision and our values? If they do that, then they passed test No 1. In our employee reviews, the first item on the review is our values.
When we fire people, typically it’s because they don’t meet our values. We can teach the skills in our business and we can teach our industry, but you can’t teach someone to have those key values that make you who you are as a company.
Q. How do you determine whether a potential employee shares your vision and values?
You are never going to be certain, but you are going to get clear on it. We have specific questions that we ask, and look for specific answers. We look for certain life experiences that people may or may not have had.
Those things all kind of drive back to who that person is, and once you can get a sense of who that person is, you know where they sit on that value scale. The only thing that can help you there is your gut.
So, it starts with asking the right questions and then interpreting the answers with as much clarity as you can get.
Q. What kinds of questions can you ask in a job interview to get at those things?
We’ll ask questions about specific things in someone’s life that they were really proud of doing. Then, they will go into a story about how they were proud about it it could be an award that they won or something like that.
Then you listen to the tone and the passion in which they explain how they felt about that. You can get a sense right there if this person exudes pride in what they do, which is a key value in what they do.
So really, a lot of the questions we ask are about life experiences
I’ve been known to walk into an interview and ask one question and one question only, and it serves for an hour interview. Typically, just by asking that one question, I get all of the answers that I need to determine whether an individual has the characteristics consistent with our values.
That question is, ‘Tell me about your life from about midway through high school until today. But don’t give me the stuff I already read on your resume. Tell me when you laughed, tell me when you cried, tell me what made you scream for joy and what you agonized about.’
You can really get a level deeper and really get in to how people really tick and what’s important to them.
HOW TO REACH: pulse220, (248) 200-3900 or www.pulse220.com