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Getting “Back to Basics”: Communicating Vision and Values
May 13, 2009 @ 05:00 AM | By Guest Blogger

2009-05-13-back-to-basics Last month, InterCall presented a webinar called “Networking and Building Relationships”.

Our speaker from Bates Communications taught us so much that we asked him to blog a bit about communication.

Please welcome a guest blogger, Craig Bentley.

When the economy takes one of its inevitable downturns, as we all know it has recently, have you noticed how many times a business leader will say, “It’s time to get back to the basics”? “Our company”, these leaders will say, “needs to focus on doing what we do best.”

I’m always a little puzzled when I hear these comments. Does that mean that these companies were focusing on what they DON’T do best, that they were ignoring the “basics” of their business when the economy was strong and consumer demand was dependable?

Sadly, for some this probably was the case. The relatively easy pickings in a rising economy meant that some companies stopped focusing on their own areas of expertise and competency. But others stubbed their toes because they failed to fulfill a core leadership requirement—they failed to communicate! They failed to communicate effectively with their employees, with their customers, with their bankers and suppliers, with the financial marketplace and with each other. They talked about results, margins, financial targets and how successful they wanted the company to become. But they stopped talking about what makes a company great, what inspires and motivates employees, what creates winners. They stopped talking about values. They stopped talking about who they are, what they stand for and why maintaining these core values is critical to the company’s (and, therefore, the employees’) long-term success.

Are you communicating regularly with all of your important stakeholders about the things that are really important? Are you asking the right questions?

  • Why was the company founded in the first place?
  • What were the founders and later leaders trying to achieve?
  • What is the real value that we deliver to customers?
  • What allowed us to grow and prosper in the past?
  • What are the values that define who we are and that differentiate us in the marketplace?
  • Are we being true to these core values?
  • Does everyone in the company know and live these values in their daily business?

A Communication Strategy 

Do you have a communication plan in place to be sure that your message is reaching your most important audiences? Is everyone on the same page regarding the messages you want communicated to your employees and customers? Are all members of your team on board or are they sending mixed messages that can confuse and demoralize staff and confuse and alienate customers?
Today, there are so many ways to communicate that it’s a real tragedy when it doesn’t happen often and isn’t done well. Email allows us to quickly reach people all over the world, and video conferencing gives us the opportunity to add more of a personal touch. Even a simple conference call can help leaders keep their teams informed. Learn how to use these tools effectively!

Keep it Simple

Sometimes… no … most of the time…, simplicity is best. I remember when, years ago, I was working for a commercial bank in the Midwest. The first page of the training manual for new hires caught my attention. The page was bright pink! There were only four words on that page…”Honesty and Fair Dealing”. That simple phrase captured the values of the company, the principles on which the business had been established and had built its franchise. And it was a clear directive as to how we were to conduct ourselves in all that we did with customers and with each other.

You want to be successful? Talk about what really matters, talk about vision and values, talk about greatness and possibilities and you too will help move the world.

Craigbentley Craig Bentley is a sought-after business consultant, financial expert and speaker.His thirty years of experience in domestic and international financial markets, banking, business development and strategic planning provide his clients with a diverse, strategic perspective to leadership communications

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