Every company has a mission statement, don’t they? If they don’t they’re likely working on one. Even many subgroups in companies and organizations have mission and vision statements. What they heck are they for?
Unfortunately in many organizations, including some I’ve worked for, the mission statement is nothing more than fluff that may hang on a wall somewhere, but it doesn’t serve as a conduit for decisions and culture. Perhaps it’s there to make the shareholders and customers feel better and maybe even the employees? It’s hard telling.
Mission came to my mind earlier this week when I was in a meeting for one of the committees I serve on at my work in an ancillary capacity. It’s a great group of brilliant people, and while it’s been in existence for almost 2 years, the committee has tossed around the need for a mission and vision statement but hasn’t ever landed on one.
So in the meeting we’re tossing around dialogue I’m sure many of you would be familiar with.
Should the mission statement be short and easy to memorize?”
“What’s the difference between the mission statement and vision statement?”
“Should this line up somehow with the organizational mission statement?
And on and on it went. By the time the meeting was over the chair felt like we had something closer to what we’ll stick with than we’ve ever had before so I guess it was a productive time.
ANYWAY, in the middle of the meeting talking about mission, out of NOWHERE the entire mission statement for a former employer of mine popped into my head, clear as day, word for word. I momentarily thought I was crazy. I haven’t been there in over 4.5 years, and it was over 8.5 years ago that I was “indoctrinated” to this company, drank their sweet, sweet, koolaid, and propagated the mission in my own work and for everyone I hired. I encouraged everyone to memorize it, and would quiz them on the floor. “What’s our mission statement?” “Does that [action] reflect [key phrase of mission statement]?”
Oh yes. I was that person.
Because for a long time I’ve been a strong proponent of having a healthy, vibrant culture in the workplace. I’ve been a part of it done very well. I’ve been a part of it where it SUCKS. And I’d much prefer the former thankyouverymuch.
Organizations with great cultures tend to get accused of being cultish, or their employees drinking the koolaid, etc.
Well study them. Because these are also the companies with the lowest turnover, highest rates of employee engagement, and high rates of employee satisfaction. And why?
Largely because they’re all on the same page. The mission – the “why we all woke up this morning” – is pervasive throughout the organization at all levels. It informs decisions and strategic plans. It’s used to guide performance conversations and succession planning.
Mission IS important. It has to accurately reflect who you are, and why you exist, but then – the whole gang needs to get on board with it. And there needs to be an environment where employees can hold each other accountable to it.
So to my former employer who modeled what living a mission is, thanks. Please continue to hold to your uncompromising principles as you grow.
What about you all? Is the mission statement at your employer a living, breathing thing, or more decoration and not really ever talked about?
“Woe to the company that loses sight of its Mission Statement for it has taken the first step on the slippery slope to failure.” – missionstatements.com