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Why do I benefit from a Vision Statement 3?

The third effect: it becomes a compass for the organization. A compass is the instrument of direction which is clear and obvious to everyone in the organization. In his book, Principle Centered Leadership, Stephen R. Covey describes how individual leaders and organizations must work diligently to make their Vision more than just words and base them on strong, natural laws we understand and relate to. He refers to these as natural principles. In terms of business principles, or values, he says, “I find a universal belief in fairness, kindness, dignity, charity, integrity, honesty, quality, service, and patience”. Do you recognize some of these values in your company already?

By creating your organization’s Vision, you are creating the ability for the organization to succeed in meeting your goals. By borrowing Covey’s compass, we are giving ourselves and our organization the ability to succeed in any business climate, which can change at any moment, usually, when we least expect

“The compass orients people to the coordinates and indicates a course of direction even in forests, deserts, seas, and open unsettled terrain” says Covey. The organizational Vision will help everyone involved in the business know which direction to go, literally and metaphorically. Our Vision provides the foundation for the set of rules with which our organization will operate.

In a sense, the Vision runs the company, providing the direction for all of our activities.

Keep in mind that the word Vision with the capital “V” means that all three of the statements: Mission, Vision and Value statements all working together to keep the organization on track.

To learn more about how these statements can help your run a successful company pick up a copy of my book, “A Small Business Guide to Developing Mission, Vision, and Value Statements


And Other Duties as Assigned

Job descriptions are on equal turf with performance evaluations as tools that are operating below their potential. Most organizations take a “one and done” approach to job descriptions and only dust them off when the position is posted on a job board. We figure that as long as we include the notorious “and other duties as assigned” disclaimer at the end of job descriptions we really don’t have to take them seriously. But when done right, the job (or position) description can be a key piece of the performance puzzle.

I’ve written a lot of job descriptions throughout my career. I’ve found that it’s both an art and a science – using best practices from a career field or industry is a good place to start, but putting the unique organizational spin on a description ensures I’m hiring people that fit with my company.

Using competency modeling helps create a job description that not only reflects the technical requirements of the role, but captures the cultural nuances necessary for success in my particular setting.

Korn/Ferry, a leader in the field of workplace competencies, defines competencies as the skills, behaviors, and attitudes that lead to high performance. (Lombardo, 2009) Defining what makes a person competent in a specific role has impact on both an organizational and individual performance level.

Trying to find a well-rounded person with a cross-section of competencies may not be best for your success. Hiring an accountant who can also sell may sound like a great “two for one” deal, but you might end up with a mediocre accountant or a frustrated salesperson.

Defining competencies for a specific job takes some skill, but there are resources available to help you identify what competencies will lead to the best performance from the individuals in your organization.

Follow these steps to identify the job competencies for each position in your organization:

  1. Make several copies of the table of competencies here. Get 2-4 colleagues together (including anyone already doing the job) and have each person circle the top 10 competencies they believe are necessary to be successful in that job.
  2. Identify the ones you agree on, then narrow the list down to 5-6 by discussing any of those that you differ on. Get to the most critical competencies. 
Use the definitions from the web site, and discuss what the term means to you and your organization. It’s important that everyone has the same understanding of the term.
  3. If you have a job description already, review it to see if what you circled matches with what the job description reflects. If they 
do not match, what is different? Make any adjustments based on your review.
  4. Use the list of competencies to clarify the job description and job posting templates.

Additional Helps

Note: As you consider which of the competencies are required for a particular position in your organization, think about how you define the item. For instance, “negotiating” may mean something very specific to you, but something very different to your colleagues. Come to agreement on how you define each competency. You may also identify competencies not listed on the web site table. This list is just to get you started.

A Google search of particular competencies will likely lead to some definitions that already exist. You may also want to check out the Lominger (Korn/Ferry) book, FYI: For Your Improvement, which provides greater detail on competencies and how to use them. Their competency card decks are pricy, but an excellent tool if you’ve got several positions to evaluate.

Once the job description is complete, it’s important to use it as both as a mirror and a  compass. As a mirror, each incumbent in the role should reflect the image of what the position exists for. Not that every individual should look identical, but each should have the core knowledge, skills, abilities, and competencies required for the role. As a compass, the job description identifies performance management and training focus to ensure continued alignment and skill development.


Regular review of job descriptions should be built in to the audit cycle of the organization. Annual position description audits might be too much for some company’s, but every couple of years makes sense. Any time there is a change in organizational design, or whenever new technology is introduced that has a significant impact on the role, the position should be evaluated and the description updated.


Maybe we don’t hate job descriptions as much as we do performance reviews, but we need to stop blaming the tool for failure. Operations and human resources leaders need to figure out how to build the right tools for their organization, and work together to get them to function for the organization and its human capital, not against. Maybe then people won’t be so cynical when they read “and other duties as assigned!”



Take a Break

When you are busy trying to meet deadlines, it is easy to just keep plugging along hour after hour.  You might be one of those dedicated individuals who doesn’t take breaks – not even lunch or grabs a quick bite at your desk while you continue to try to work.  However, more and more studies are showing that productivity actually decreases with continued unbroken effort and increases with breaks.  They don’t need to be half hour coffee breaks.  In fact, some articles are suggesting that taking a 17 minute break every hour is the most effective while other articles claim a 15 second break every 10 minutes is more beneficial. has a clever infographic which states that a 15 second break every 10 minutes can reduce fatigue by 50% while taking a 5 minute break every hour can help reduce the pain in wrists and hands.  They go on to suggest a 2 minute break really isn’t long enough but at least you can stand and stretch and give your eyes a rest by looking at something that is 20 feet away instead of your computer screen.

Whichever method fits best with your work schedule, the idea is to give your brain and eyes a rest from the intensity of the current project.  Adding a positive emotional moment can enhance the effect even more.  That might be as simple as complimenting a co-worker or even looking at a favorite vacation picture.  So give yourself a break – in fact, give yourself several breaks today.



Presentations: How to “Silently” Talk to Your Listeners

Every day we present our thoughts and ideas to business prospects, teachers, friends, family, and organizations. Our first interaction can leave a lasting impression! Since 55% of our message is non-verbal, make sure your body is relaying the same message your mouth is. Whether you are giving a sales presentation to a large number of individuals or sitting across from two people at a table, use the following tips to ensure your non-verbal signals bring the success you are looking for. The more positive and confident your interactions, the greater your success in building a relationship that will last for many years. Following are signals that can either enhance, or destroy, future business.

Your energy. Be aware of the energy you are transmitting! Is it motivating, positive, exciting, confident, worrisome, pre-occupied? Set a positive tone with your facial expressions, sincere eye contact and friendly, yet controlled body language. Signs of defiance, angst, fear or frustration will send the listener packing, even if your words are saying something entirely different!

  • Hands. It is said that eyes and hands are open and closed with the person’s mind. They tell so much about your current state of mind. Hands should face palms up with fingers open (welcoming them to come in to your “space”) or at your side. If you are new at speaking and feeling uncomfortable, hold a pen in one hand. Having one hand in your pocket briefly is acceptable but both hands in your pockets gives the impression of either being arrogant, lacking confidence or hiding something.
  • Pointing. Pointing a finger or a pen in someone’s general direction immediately puts them on the defense. When asking an individual a question or to sign a paper, hold your pointer or pen like you would if you were writing, at an angle. It seems like a very small matter but can give a strong message subconsciously.
  • Touching. A friendly touch on the shoulder is often meant as a welcoming gesture, however, note their response. If they recoil, smile and back away. Touching sometimes reminds individuals of an unpleasant experience and is not anything personal against you. We just always want to be respectful of their reactions.
  • Eye contact. In the U.S., eye contact is a necessary for honest, productive conversations. In some other countries, looking someone in the eye could be considered disrespectful. Good eye contact gives the impression that you are trustworthy, confident, credible, and serious about your conversation or presentation.
  • Your eyes. Avoid darting eyes, scanning people’s shoes, or any eye messages that give the impression you are not completely engaged in a conversation with them.
  • Statements or questions. When people raise their voices at the end of a statement, it sounds like they are questioning themselves rather than making a statement. The listener may think, “If you are not sure of what you are talking about, why should I take your seriously?” Result? You can be overlooked in business meetings and presentations. Approximately 80% of voiceovers on television are done by men because of their lower pitch which lends to their credibility.
  • Letting others finish your sentences. If individuals in your audience interrupt, your first mode of defense is to raise your volume slightly. If that does not work, hold up your index finger while slightly raising your volume. If they didn’t get the message, raise your hand in the “stop” position. As a last resort, hold your hand up in the “stop” position and say, “Excuse me, I wasn’t finished yet.” This act should keep you in control and maintaining your composure.
  • Adjust your mode of speaking. According to the type of group you are talking to. Be more energetic if talking to someone of like manner and do not overwhelm someone with a strong voice if they are quiet and reserved.

Non-verbal messages can diffuse hostility by maintaining a composed demeanor. Restraining your own body language when someone is angry with you can actually have a calming effect on them. Keep your voice low and limit gestures while preserving a relaxed posture to discourage others from a potential rant.

Bottom line: always check to ensure your body is saying the same thing your mouth is. You goal is to have the most clear, concise, confident message possible.