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NI Fire & Rescue Service

Vision, Mission & Values – What’s it all about?

Vision, Mission & Values – What’s it all about?

Category: Employee Engagement, Mission & Values    Date: 18th August 2017       

Many times we hear the words ‘vision, mission and values’ when people talk about organisations. Over the years, as an employee, I wondered how they related to me in my day-to-day job.  I had no input to them so did that mean they weren’t for the likes of me and instead were something only of concern for senior managers?

Fast forward to today, and as Chief Fire & Rescue Officer, I believe the vision, mission and values we assign to an organisation are critical to its future success. But do we fully understand what these abstract terms mean and how do we bring them to life for NIFRS?

The vision describes what an organisation will look like in the future; it’s aspirational and provides direction.  It gives us a clear picture of what the organisation will become and the major long-term results that we will accomplish.  It guides us to what we want to achieve – think of it as the ‘North Star’ – it explains where we want to go and, just like a compass, provides direction.

It should be both inspiring and motivating as it describes the benefits that we bring and impact that we have as an organisation.  It’s not something that relates to just senior managers, but it should be ‘owned’ by every leader, every function and indeed every person within the organisation.  It provides direction, aligns employees, strategy and operational tactics to achieve a common purpose.

Sir Christopher Wren walked one day unrecognised amongst the men who were building St. Paul’s cathedral in London which he had designed. “What are you doing?” he inquired of one of the workmen, and the man replied, “I am cutting a piece of stone.” As he went on he put the same question to another man, who replied, “I am earning five shillings two pence a day.” And to a third man he addressed the same inquiry and the man answered, “I am helping Sir Christopher Wren build a beautiful cathedral.”

That man had vision. He could see beyond the cutting of the stone, beyond the earning of his daily wage, to the creation of a work of art—the building of a great cathedral. And in your work it is important for you to see the big picture.  Our challenge is to describe our vision in a way that leaves others inspired.

In contrast, the mission informs people about our core purpose – what do we do? How do we do it? And for whom?  It’s what draws people to an organisation and provides a sense of meaning.  As employees, when we find our sense of meaning then we’re more committed, motivated and engaged.  While the vision focuses on the long term view, the mission is all about the present.  It supports the vision and communicates the purpose and direction to both employees and those who use our services.

The values relate to what we believe in and how we behave.  Values should be something of worth and held in high esteem.  We should think of our values as a moral compass which guides our decision making.  They influence how we treat not just each other but also those outside the organisation.

We will shortly be reviewing our vision, mission and value statements to ensure that they are relevant for a modern-day fire and rescue service.  We will be holding focus groups for staff at all levels across the organisation so that you have the chance to input and shape how our vision, mission and values will look.  It’s important that we get them right to ensure that we are focused on the next part of our journey.

As always, I welcome your views and feedback so please get in touch by emailing cfro@nifrs.org

Best wishes, Gary

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