Mission statements have a bad rap. Many people consider them philosophical fluff that businesses add to their employee manuals and marketing literature to put forth a memorable first impression. That is sad because a company’s mission should – and can – be so much more!
MISSION STATEMENT DEFINED
A mission statement is a formal statement of purpose that includes the intent and values of a company. It defines what an organization is and why it exists. A mission statement serves as a guidepost for shareholders, leaders, and employees to help direct their decision-making, efforts, and conduct.
Author and motivational speaker Simon Sinek is known for his thoughts on the concept of the “golden circle.” He talks about focusing on the “why” of what one does rather than the “what” and “how” of what one does. According to Sinek, “people don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it.” Creating a purpose-driven life and business must always start with a “why.” While that sounds simple, it is difficult for many business owners. Few companies clearly express why they do what they do.
How can a company identify its “why”? It requires taking a step back and reflecting on the reasons for starting the business and the vision for its purpose and place in the world. Business owners should ask themselves what the driving force is behind every decision made and challenge confronted. They should also ask themselves what motivates individuals to go to work at the business each morning.
When creating a mission statement, think about the values and philosophies that drive one’s personal life. Then, center the mission on these priorities. Determine how these values will be achieved through the company’s initiatives.
A mission is not something that can be forced or manufactured. It needs to be organically-grown and harvested from a place within the heart, soul, and conscience.
WHY SOME MISSION STATEMENTS FALL SHORT
Some companies force employees to recite, from memory, the company’s mission statement each morning. While that may seem like a sensible way to remind employees of their purpose, it often fails to motivate team members when the actions of the company are not in sync with the written
Too often, leadership neglects to instill the “why” into the company culture. They expect employees to know the mission statement, but never take the time and effort to explain what it means and how it aligns with their roles in the organization. So, employees never become engaged with or feel vested in it. As a result, the mission statement becomes nothing more than rote words void of genuine meaning and ineffective at inspiring employees.
No matter how clear a company’s mission statement and vision are, leaders must take steps to connect them to every team member.
DIRECTION, PLANNING, AND STRATEGY
When a company has a defined purpose that the entire team understands and embraces, progress can take root. With the mission at the forefront of all business endeavors, everyone can focus on common goals and develop actionable steps to reach those goals.
A mission statement is a valuable tool to help businesses plan effectively. Every business needs to do strategic planning (which involves defining short- and long-term objectives, strategies, and tactics) using its mission statement as its ultimate guide.
Objectives may include reaching specific market-share targets, hitting particular revenue or profit goals, getting higher customer satisfaction scores, and improving brand awareness.
Using higher customer satisfaction scores as an example, strategies to accomplish that might include better training and monitoring feedback scores. Tactics related to those strategies might involve hiring an outside training consultant for a series of service training sessions.
Actively use the mission statement in planning because it is one of the most effective ways to ensure the company’s vision is an integral part of everything it does. Keeping the mission statement as a focal point in planning efforts enables companies to consistently move forward and grow.
Putting the mission to work in this way gives the team direction on what is expected of them today and what the business aspires to accomplish in the future. It immerses them in the mission and allows leaders to gain their buy-in and trust. A strong mission statement – one that is not only put onto paper and the company’s website, but also put into practice – will facilitate team members’ commitment to contributing to the business’ success.
ONGOING MEASUREMENT, EVALUATION, AND IMPROVEMENT
It has been said that “what you measure will be your mission.” With a clear, written mission statement, leaders should be able to easily identify what results they need to track and evaluate. Metrics around the mission statement will help assess progress toward meeting goals and help determine areas of excellence and areas where improvements can be made.
Carefully decide what metrics to monitor, so that they relate to the tenets of the mission statement. Create standards and goals for improvement for each metric, because they directly relate to – and reflect on – how well the company is following its mission.
Realize that measuring results and evaluating them are only worth the time if they lead to actions taken as a result of what has been learned. If team members (either individually or collectively) exceed goals, acknowledge and celebrate their achievements. If the company is falling short of its goals, dig deeper to find out why and, then, engage the team in finding solutions to get it back on track.
MISSION DISCONNECT – MISSING THE MARK
Mission disconnect can – and does – happen within companies despite the best intentions. Day-to-day work can become repetitive and boring to employees, causing them to lose sight of the “big picture.” Another cause of disconnect is when there are employees who never commit to a com-
Getting disengaged team members to reconnect with the mission can be challenging and, if employees get too far removed from it, could require the help of a leadership consultant.
The best course of action is to not let a disconnect happen in the first place. Always use the mission statement in planning efforts so that objectives, strategies, and tactics align with it. Regularly communicate with employees about how their roles and what they do contribute to achieving the mission. Track the company’s progress in fulfilling its mission. Recognize and celebrate individual and group accomplishments related to fulfilling the mission. And, as soon as lapses in the mission are detected within the company, identify the issue and implement a solution to correct it.
Zig Ziglar said, “Outstanding people have one thing in common: an absolute sense of mission.”
This quote applies to individuals and businesses, too. It is why the mission statement is a mission-critical element for putting the company on the path to success. The spa industry is ultra-competitive and being satisfactory does not cut it. Each organization has to excel and stand out. Having an “absolute sense of mission” that is clearly captured in a mission statement and effectively communicated within the company will position leaders to do just that.