Well, you might be having a mission statement already. But, how do you know if your company’s mission statement is effective? Well, there are a few simple questions you can ask yourself or your team to quickly gauge how successful your purpose is at the very moment:
- How many employees know it? If you surveyed your team, how many people would be able to tell you what your mission statement says or means?
- Does it guide company decisions? Does it help you select and prioritize projects, advise a coworker, or help a client?
- How many times per day do you think of it? Is your company mission statement something that flashes into your head during team meetings, when reading emails, or when you show up to work in the morning?
If yours is like most companies I’ve encountered. The answers to any or all of these questions is below where it should be for a truly effective mission statement. Admit it. You may wonder if it even really matters — isn’t that just a marketing thing? Can’t I get rid of it by simply running an FB campaign? What sort of ROI could this possibly have for my company?
Why a Mission Statement Matters to You and Your Company
A mission statement is defining and uniting a principle. Ideally, it defines the problem in the world that your company sees and hopes to fix. Why you want to fix it, and how you’re going to do it? This makes it more meaningful.
It’s why and how you do what you do — a powerful little sentence. (Note: This is not to be confused with a vision statement. Though it is also important, which is more focused on what the world will look like after you’ve fixed it.)
In order to be an effective organization, this common identity is vital.
If every single person at your organization is not clear on or does not identify (or agree) with the purpose of the organization. It’s going to be very difficult to accomplish the goals it has for itself. Instead, you’ll have individuals focused on their goals, their job, their ideas on how to handle something, without aiming at the big picture — the company’s intended destination.
If your company really hopes to solve a problem in the world (which it should!). Then let’s talk about how to revamp your mission statement and make it more effective.
How to Make an Effective Mission Statement
While this is a topic I could write an entire book out of, I’ll briefly explain some of the more important highlights for creating an effective mission statement.
Determine the problem in the world your company hopes to solve.
This may have changed over time, so it’s important that the main problem your organization hopes to solve is clearly addressed so anyone who reads it will think, “yes, that’s a problem and I believe they are the solution”.
Determine how you want to tackle it
Be creative here. Why are you the only solution to this problem anyone should care about? A “focus on customer service”, a “best-in-class product”, “low pricing”, or being a “great employer” are all well and good — but if that’s what every single one of your competitors would also say they do, then dig a little deeper.
Give it power
Provide guidelines for how to use this mission statement and practice it. Have your team test real scenarios — simulated but realistic discussions with a customer or a prioritization dilemma — and have them make a decision. (Example: Deciding to offer a product at a discount, etc.). Talk through the decision thought process. Let your team know that all decisions made with the mission statement in mind will be supported — after all, the decision was made for the collective good of the organization. If you’d prefer a different outcome next time, explain how the outcome you would have chosen better aligns with the mission statement and use the moment to teach. Eventually if done effectively, you will get to the point where when someone in the organization is facing a difficult decision, it is the first thought, and it empowers them to make a choice. The organization will be so strongly tied to the mission that everyone buzzes about it.
Get everyone involved
This is not something a few executives should sit in a board room to discuss, quickly jot down, and then shove down the throats of employees. If you have an existing staff — everyone needs to be involved in this process. Remember, the goal of this task is to create a unifying identity. Find out what keeps your team working there — what is the purpose they see for your organization. Understand that the existing team is not going to respect or identify with this if it is being pushed down from the top — to be effective it needs to be pulled from the bottom up. This is not a quick fix if you want it to be effective — this will take time, effort, and revision.
Train new employees in the same way
Once it has become part of your company culture, new employees should be able to feel that this organization really means what it says and it will have implied power — you’ll just have to show newcomers how to channel and effectively use it.
Revisit it every year & if necessary, iterate
Take a look at your mission statement and see how you measured up over the course of the year. Are you working towards it? Or did other projects get in the way that was less important to the overall goal of the organization? Have an open forum discussion with your team and set goals for the next year.
I hope you found something useful from this brief overview of the power of the mission statement. You need to stay focused and also might need to revise every process you are working on presently. It is then only when you’ll be able to work out to produce the ideal fit for your mission statement.
If you have an effective mission statement, I hope it helped reaffirm the value for you. If you do not, I hope it convinced you to take this project and move it forward. It will return dividends in many ways including organizational cohesion, employee retention, and organizational goal setting and achieving. Good luck!