When it comes to vision statements, nobody beats ophthalmologists. “You have 20/15 vision. That means you can see at 20 feet what most people would have to stand at 15 feet to see.”
While this kind of vision statement can be useful in deciding whether you need glasses, or how far you can sit from something you’re looking at without eye strain, it might not be useful in trying to define a vision for HR functions. And yet…
Vision has to do with how we see, and its meanings expand out to include how we think and feel about our place in the world or in a structure—a family, neighborhood, city, nation, or company. HR vision statements strategically express the importance of HR to a company and clarify its place within the company’s overall strategy.
Here are 6 tips, things to think about when you’re setting down in words your place within the organization.
1. Separate Vision Statements from Mission Statements.
Mission statements abound, and so do vision statements. They’re not the same. The difference between the two is simple. Think of a mission statement as a statement of what the company does, and a vision statement as a guide to where it wants to go, or a statement of the vision behind the day-to-day activities.
Explain the present, why your company came into being and what it does.
Explain the future, where a company is going and how it intends to get there.
Think of having a separate mission and vision statements like having different tools to help you navigate a dark forest: one is a flashlight and one is a compass. The flashlight (mission statement) illuminates your current line of sight while the compass (vision statement) shows you the way to your desired destination. If your company has big plans for the future, make sure that both your mission and vision are properly documented.
2. Separate HR’s Vision Statement from the Company’s
It’s tempting to simply adopt the company’s vision statement. After all, HR is part of the company and should share its goals, right? But HR has duties the company as a whole doesn’t share, and its mission and vision should reflect that. Consider a few areas that HR specializes in:
- Compliance – Compliance can be tricky, with lots to keep track of. Even innocuous questions can become nocuous in the right circumstances. Consider this exchange when a city council was interviewing a candidate for a newly vacated mayor’s seat: “What about your family?” “You don’t have to answer that,” the city manager jumped in. “Sorry. I meant, does your family support you in this?”
- Training – Training is important as a way of making new employees feel welcome and comfortable in the company’s culture, and it’s critical in highly regulated industries like health insurance and financial services, where compliance with federal regulations is central to the company’s mission.
- Overtime – Every HR professional (and not a few highly trained insurance agents) has gotten numerous emails for seminars that will make sure you know the correct rules for overtime, or any of several other duties you perform.
- Paperwork – It doesn’t stop with just getting the right paperwork from new employees, and making sure they have the right paperwork to sign.
- Benefits – No other department deals with benefits like HR does.
3. S.L.E.E.P. on It
A vision statement should be memorable, and that usually means short, in keeping with the findings of this classic study, which influenced the formation of ZIP Codes and phone numbers. Sometimes you want to say more than will fit in a short, catchy phrase, so acronyms are common in mission statements. Here’s one from SleepZoo’s HR department, as reported by Capterra in a collection of HR vision statement examples:
- Seize the opportunity to recognize high-quality work.
- Look for the best-qualified team members
- Ensure everyone has the right tools to operate efficiently
- Establish sound policies for equitable treatment
- Provide competitive payment
4. Make Sure it Guides Your Strategy
Your vision statement should be a signpost that directs your activities. It should help you determine the value of new programs and initiatives when you strategize. And when you are tracking the effectiveness of different activities, you should reference your vision statement to know how valuable those activities were.
5. Easy on the Ear, Gentle on the Mind
Remember the advice a mother gave her daughter about baby names: “Go to the back door and shout it three times. You’ll be doing a lot of that. Make sure it sounds good to you.” You want your HR vision statement to remain appealing and accurate over time.
6. Focus on Why
Your vision statement is a great place to say why you do the work you do, why it matters, and why those you serve can count on your work. The work HR does is important. It matters. If you can articulate why (especially in the context of your specific company) in a short, memorable couple of lines, you’ll be well on your way to having a great vision statement.
To go back to the “vision statement” at the beginning of this piece, 20/15 is mildly farsighted, and what HR department doesn’t want to see far and guide their company well? We hope these tips will spark your creativity, helping you craft a memorable, enticing vision statement.