future vision

Among business leaders, it’s become a well-accepted maxim that it’s a good idea to keep employees in the loop about the strategic direction of the company. Perhaps unsurprisingly, a number of management practices that support this philosophy—such as open-book management, collaborative vision creation and sharing a “painted picture”—have risen in popularity in recent years.

But are employees are really getting it?

New research suggests that executives are pretty confident that staff are plugged in to future plans. A survey by Robert Half Management Resources (RHMR) reveals that 79% of Canadian CFOs feel their employees are at least somewhat aware of the company’s vision; 20% are “very confident” that this is the case.

The survey polled 273 CFOs from a stratified random sample of Canadian companies, so it reflects large corporations (which are likely to have sophisticated and formalized communications channels) as well as SMEs. It’s also possible the CFOs who responded had only their direct charges in mind; it’s much easier to keep employees in a single department in the loop than it is to spread the message across an entire company. And any survey that aims to gauge staff attitudes that doesn’t poll staff themselves will always raise some eyebrows.

But even if the numbers aren’t fully tailored to SMEs, they point to an encouraging trend for those striving for full transparency. And this is good news for the business community as a whole, says David King, Canadian president of RHMR. “Communicating business goals is an important step in the right direction toward engaging and motivating employees, but just helping people become aware of those goals isn’t enough,” he says. Why? Because it all amounts to little more than corporate-speak when it’s not relevant to their day-to-day jobs. That’s why it’s smart, King adds, to empower workers by showing them how their personal contributions help the overall purpose of the company—a classic engagement-driver.

But what if you’re not exactly sure of your master plan? That’s no reason to keep staff in the dark, says King. “Even organizations still refining their vision should communicate to staff their initial vision and the company’s progress toward realizing it.”

How confident are you that your staff knows where the company is headed? Do you agree that it’s important to be fully transparent? Share your thoughts by commenting below.

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