What’s your company’s mission?
If you’re like many employees — and even executives — the way you answer that question is by visiting your company’s website and then reading an approved mission statement. It may even take you a couple of minutes to rattle off the entire thing. How much value does a mission statement that can’t be remembered and takes a few hundred words to convey actually help a company? Not much.
This happens all the time. Every once in a while, a corporate committee forms to come up with a mission statement. After a few hours of back and forth, someone writes it up and it goes on a website and maybe in an email blast to the team. Even if they could remember it all, they’re unlikely to subscribe to it if it fails to align with their own personal values. So you’re stuck with a document that sounds nice, but isn’t actually doing anything.
Companies often have difficulty understanding exactly why they exist.
It doesn’t have to be this way. Your company’s mission should be an embodiment of values and culture. Then it can dictate the expected behaviors from everyone that help accomplish that mission and the bottom line benefits.
To get there, let the three core aspects of every mission — or the Three C’s — be your guide.
Be Clear. Companies often have difficulty understanding exactly why they exist. That is a major stumbling block, especially today with more Millennials entering the workplace. These young workers don’t just want a paycheck; they want to contribute to a larger purpose. To understand yours, ask what difference does your company make in the world? To phrase it another way, what would be missing if your company did not exist?
Once you understand that, it becomes a much simpler exercise to articulate your mission. When you do, make sure to do it in a clear way that is easy not only for all employees to understand, but also for them to convey to others. The best way to accomplish that is to consider the personal values of employees when crafting your corporate mission. Those values won’t all be the same, of course, but the mission can align with most of them in some way. This is the path to developing an authentic culture built on respect.
Be Concise. Company missions should be relatively simple and when written down, quick reads. If your mission statement takes longer than 30 seconds to get through, it’s too long. Effective mission statements that create vision are easily understood by everyone, from the newest temp to the highest executive and outsiders. Use simple language and strip any jargon from your mission statement.
Core values should be easy to remember and recite. Take time to boil down the most important values that drive the behaviors you are looking for. Look for larger concepts that incorporate these behaviors so that you can keep your list of values to five or fewer. Often, two or more of your core values can be blended into one.
Communicate your mission all the time. The worst mission statements are those that are buried on a website and then forgotten. It makes no difference how powerful it is if it isn’t visible. One company found great value in starting and ending every meeting by reciting core values. Other effective communication methods include listing them on the lanyards that hold ID badges, painting them on the wall and including them as a signature file in company emails.
Effectively communicated values are the most likely to stick and build an authentic culture. Look for any opportunity to communicate your mission and values as frequently as possible. Spotlight when team members live them out.
No matter what industry you are in, your company has a mission, vision and culture. Take the time to develop them into clear, concise and communicated values that will drive behaviors that benefit everyone.