So you’ve found yourself in a turnaround situation.
Perhaps you’ve been the leader for a long time, but the momentum has waned, and you know the organization needs to rediscover new life.
Or maybe you recently stepped into a new leadership space specifically to help turn things around.
Regardless of how you arrived, prepare to face several truths about the situation:
- Nobody can give you the complete story of the decline, but everyone does possess part of the truth.
- The tasks required to turn things around will be longer than you can imagine.
- Everyone who still cares will offer passionate advice on where to start.
Where Should You Begin?
This is the critical question. When 100 things need to be done, which one comes first?
After all, nothing on the turnaround list is superfluous.
I’m currently serving with a church as an interim leader. Most church and business consulting clients use me for strategic or communication consultation and leadership coaching. So this situation is a bit more unique.
When this church asked me to step into a more significant leadership role to help right the ship, I again fell into the throws of “Where should we begin?”
Agreement on the Fundamentals
A lack of mission and vision focus is a common problem when any organization struggles. Not always, but often.
When a purpose of existence and vision for the future is absent, it’s impossible to be successful.
As you gather your list of issues and problems and begin developing your task list, no matter what you find, redefining and restating the mission and vision must move to the top of your list.
These two beliefs set the foundation for everything you will do moving forward.
But don’t miss the word “agreement.”
Not everyone remaining in a drifting organization will agree with the restated mission and vision, even if nothing in the language or approach has changed.
People Create The Mission and Vision When There Is No Clarity
When the mission and vision are lacking, the remnant of staff, teams, employees, or congregants creates their own mission and vision.
Don’t skip this reality too quickly.
People need direction. When none is offered, they’ll create one. And they’ll begin following what they envision.
That’s what I faced when becoming the lead pastor of a revitalizing church in late 2008. And it’s what I’m seeing again with my church client.
When asked to take on this interim leadership role, I first gathered with the Elders to reaffirm the mission and vision. If it has changed or needs to change, that change must be documented and communicated. If the mission and vision are to remain as they’ve been, it’s time to reestablish them in the common vernacular of the church.
There is no momentum without a clear mission. There is no directional adventure without a clear vision.
This is where we start. We communicate and recommunicate the mission and vision over and over again.
Become a Mission and Vision Communication Master!
Saying it isn’t enough.
I wish it were, but it’s gonna take more than repeating a statement to reset the organization. The further you’ve fallen away from the mission and vision, the more you’ll need to communicate it.
1. Ensure these statements are simple, straightforward, and memorable.
How much can you simplify these statements? Long sentences with unnecessary adjectives may sound great, but we’re not after the sound but the action. Make sure your mission and vision are simple, clear, and memorable.
I’d suggest setting an eight-word limit for each. Even if you can’t get it down to eight, the process of attempting will provide some element of clarity.
2. Use every communication space to restate the statements.
You should say the mission and vision from the stage (if you’re a pastor like me), but these public spaces are not the only places for stating and restating the mission and vision.
Think of every single communication as a mission and vision conduit. Add the statements to your email signature. Mention it at every staff meeting, one-on-one meeting, and team meeting.
Basically, any and every communication channel is a means for mission and vision reinforcement.
3. Connect success to the statements.
Stories have always been our greatest avenue for content. Not only should you tell stories of success, but you should also connect every story to the mission and vision. When you paint a picture of mission and vision success through stories, people can better understand and own these statements.
4. Create a strategy to accomplish the mission and the vision.
Your strategy (or plan or ministry model) is how you do what you do. Your plan should be built to accomplish your mission and vision. As you create and evaluate your strategy, continually return to your mission and vision to ensure it remains the foundation of your plan.
5. Connect everyone and everything back to the mission and vision.
Every person in the organization needs a one-sentence job description that connects their role with the broader mission and vision. Connecting these dots makes it easier to remain on mission and vision.
6. Take time to teach it corporately.
I mentioned how often you should say it, but you should also take time to teach it in more robust spaces.
If you’re a pastor, take a Sunday sermon twice a year to refocus everyone back to your mission and vision. If you are an organizational or team leader, plan time away from logistics and tasks to teach the why behind all the whats.
This time isn’t wasted. I’d argue from experience that the more people feel connected to the mission and vision, the more productive they will be. And avoiding mission and vision drift is a massive time saver.
7. Use visuals to reinforce it.
Saying the mission and vision is essential, but so is showing it. Visuals can help remind and reinforce these critical statements. Consider painting these statements on the wall of your break room. Or in the lobby of your space. If you’re in a portable meeting space, create banners or flags to use while in the space.
Hearing and seeing these statements repeatedly isn’t a bad thing. It’s an organizational lifesaver.
Turn it Around!
You can do it, but it’s not going to be easy.
The fastest (or perhaps only) way to success is to reset the foundation: Mission and Vision.
Once these elements are again prominent, you’re ready for the next 1,000 tasks!
And if I can help, don’t hesitate to ask.
After all, I’m in the middle of it again, myself.