[IMGCAP(1)]The last article I wrote was an introduction into the world of starting from scratch with core values, which eventually will lead into Mission and Vision work within your organization. My last article went through the process of beginning with core values to help you initiate this process, and now I would like you to be prepared to talk about mission.
The definition of an organization’s mission is - what you need to do every day to create success in your organization. Many organizations have mission, vision and core values but they aren’t truly living them every day. As consultants and value added resellers, with as many mergers and acquisitions that have gone on, it isn’t appropriate to not review, revise and refresh these guiding principles. In fact, it is all the more important to gut check them and make sure that they are still valid within the new structure of your organization.
Now, ask yourself these questions:
- What is it that your organization produces?
- What is the end result of that production?
- Why do you come to work every day?
- Who do you do this for?
- What should your customer experience be?
- Why should your employees be excited? (or, What are your employees excited about?)
By answering some of these questions you begin the process of defining your organizations mission statement. I will also clarify that your mission statement is an internal document that is to be used to inspire and clarify what you so that at every level in the organization there is clarity.
Many firms make the mistake of using their mission statement as a marketing message that emphasizes what they do. While marketing messages can be derived from the mission statement, they shouldn’t be your actual mission statement.
By using the above questions, you may ask them to a series of employees and see how they respond. Surprisingly, if you have an undefined mission (i.e. not written on paper, or even if it is documented, it is not lived everyday) you will find that your organization has some common themes that employees believe is the mission of the organization.
Undefined missions always lead to employees themselves defining the work that they do and while there will be common themes available, you may also find that there are individual employees who have started down their own path that isn’t in line with where the company is going. More importantly, when you ask employees and partners or executives these questions you will find out where you stand as an organization.
Once you’ve asked the right questions, you can then select the phrases and words that stand out to you as those themes you are passionate about as an organization. And if you take the number of responses and highlight those themes, phrases, or even words you will start to see potential missions coming to life.
But what if you can’t agree on terms and themes? You then need to go back to your core values and see if what you are selecting from your mission themes supports the core values of the organization. If it doesn’t, it’s time for a gut check.
Once you have your highlighted themes, phrases and words, start narrowing them down. Use a specific team or everyone at the firm to vote on the ones that resonate most with your members. If you are a partner or executive of your organization and having a difficult time coming to a consensus, you should involve the next layer of team members or potentially a group of employees that can engage in the process you are going through. This will give you a perspective that is deeper in the organization and will also help you gain supporters for when it is time to roll out your new mission statement.
Continue the process of narrowing down your themes until you have a unified, cohesive sentence; yes, just a sentence. You should be able to memorize, recite and speak to the mission statement and ultimately have every employee in your organization to be able to recite your mission statement. When you have reached this milestone you know that you are seeing the mission take life.
In addition to your mission statement, you can increase the success of your mission taking on its own spirit every day in the organization by having a descriptive document that explains in greater detail what the mission means and explicitly gives examples of how the mission is lived in the organization on a day to day basis.
The whole idea of having a mission statement is that when employees are faced with a question of “Is this the right thing for me to be doing?” you want them to be able to refer to your core values and your mission statement to help guide them to take the right action. This helps your organization achieve better success and better alignment to meeting its goals with its customers. Ultimately, your employees will be on the same page and it will cut down on additional management time needed to be involved with issues that can be solved by inspiring the right action in your employees.
Don’t waste any more time. Define your mission statement and watch your organization take on a new life, inspiring your employees to choose better actions and work in unison to meet your organizational goals.
Apryl Hanson is a director of customer and partner strategy at Sage + NetSuite partner Blytheco LLC. She is a leadership executive focused on delivering customer and partner strategic initiatives to improve profitability and has responsibly over the customer facing sales teams as well as the firm’s marketing initiatives and plans. Apryl is also a customer loyalty enthusiast and is currently working on a book with colleague Alicia Anderson on women’s strengths in the work place.
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