5 ways startup founders can get staff to share in their vision

Photo: Chris Haston/NBC/getty Images

It is everyone’s responsibility in a business to build the company vision.

While as CEOs our job is to ensure everyone in the team is aligned on that vision and is working towards the same goal, it is up to each and every team member to grab that vision with both hands and continue to evolve it.

Creating and sharing the company vision must be the commitment of every CEO. As a thriving business, you want employees at every level — from frontline leaders to executives — to take the company’s vision and make it their own.

We need to build on the shoulders of those around us because together we will be much more powerful than anyone of us alone.

As SafetyCulture grows from 140 to 300 people over the next 12 to 18 months, it is important that there is a consistent message in regards to why we are all here. And this applies to every growing and scalable business.

It starts with a clear vision, communicated often and widely across the team, and is reinforced by a working environment built on transparency, a strong company culture and sense of purpose ingrained in each individual, and ongoing investment in your people.

Here are five key points every CEO needs to think about when aiming to instill an unbeatable company vision:

1. Learn to delegate

The overarching goal for every business is to find people who are capable of getting it done, and then getting out of their way.

Investor and advisor Scott Farquar of Atlassian, with SafetyCulture founder and CEO Luke Anear. Photo: Belinda Pratten

If you look at what Jeff Bezos has done with Amazon, he has leaders who could be world class CEOs in their own right, running different parts of Amazon’s business.

This is where the special magic happens — when you combine the talents of people who are better than yourself in many ways, and you come together to build and enhance your company vision.

2. Strong sense of purpose

Culture is the foundation for all that you do. The culture you create needs to be one where people want to come to work each day and do the work of their lives.

If you don’t maintain a great place to work, then the best people in the world will find somewhere else. Culture is vital for you to attract and retain the most talented people you can find.

3. Open door policy

It is often easy to forget how much knowledge you have accumulated over the years and that it takes time for new team members to acquire that knowledge.

Every week I have a session with new team members and share the story of the company and the purpose of why we do what we do. This trickles down into their interaction with customers, and encourages them to think about the problem the company is solving and how they could solve it better.

We have a town hall meeting every two weeks, which is part update and part Q&A — it is a chance for people that I’m not working with every day to ask me anything.

The more engaged your employees are in the problem they are solving, the better the ideas they will generate for the benefit of the company vision.

4. Invest in your people

Ongoing investment in your people can get expensive, but so is the cost of having team members who don’t have a strong reason for getting out of bed each day.

Unless people are motivated by your company’s vision, they are going to drift and just keep a seat warm until their next job. You can’t afford that as a growing business.

Every three months I take a group of 10 people into a developing country so that we can experience what it is like when the standards that we live with in the developed world are stripped away.

We look at local challenges and cultural barriers to provide a more global perspective on the massive problem we are solving.

Investing in your people and getting them inspired about doing the work they do every day is not something that can fall to the bottom of your priority list.

I also feel very strongly about the role that books and knowledge sharing can have on society – putting your hand in your pocket to purchase any books your employees want to read, whether its business books, or books related specifically to their role, will only benefit company culture and productivity.

5. Encourage transparency

It is vital to maintain a transparent culture where anyone can challenge an idea or share one.

Self-awareness is key and teams need to push each other hard on developing that self-awareness and provide regular feedback in regards to strengths and weaknesses.

Transparency creates a supportive environment that limits the risk of failure as companies set out to fulfil and build on their company vision. This applies to everyone in a company, and no one more than myself.

CEOs require ongoing feedback on what they’re doing well and what they’re not, so that they can continue to improve and everyone in the company is set up to win.

Luke Anear is founder and chief executive of SafetyCulture.