In order to be able to start writing a business mission statement, first, you must clearly understand three fundamental facts:It must align your organization
When you think mission – think passion. In practical terms, mission translates to passion and to performance – your employees’ passion to execute their work. A high performance organization has a workforce who truly believes in its company’s mission, it identifies with it, and it is passionate about it.
Hence, not all companies’ missions are for everybody – we all have different callings, we all believe in different purposes, and we all identify ourselves with different missions.
Human beings have the desire and potential to contribute, and one of the best competitive advantages there is, it is the commitment of your workforce. Your mission helps you do just that.
Writing a business mission statement is the easy part – making sure that everybody you hire identifies herself with and commits to your organization’s mission is the tricky part.
Talent Attraction, Retention, and Development:
No company wants employees who don’t identify themselves with the mission of the organization.
A well-crafted and clear mission attracts, retains and develops the employees who identify themselves with your company’s mission, and at the same time it repels the people who don’t find it compelling.
If your workforce identifies itself with your organization, it is more likely that your mission will play an important role in talent retention and development – but if it doesn’t, it won’t keep them and develop them.
Writing a business mission statement is useless if your hiring practice is not aligned with it – it is also useless if many people within your employees don’t identify themselves with it – it won’t be able to retain them and develop them.
Alignment means that everybody – or at least the great majority – in the company clearly understands what the mission is, and what it is they need to do in their every day activities in order to fulfill it.
Your mission brings a focal point so that your employees can appreciate how what they do is linked to a greater purpose – it is a leadership tool to help you guide organization-wide decision-making and execution.
Alignment means that the daily behaviors of all the organization’s employees are 100 per cent aligned with the company’s mission – the mission helps you shape the behavior of everybody in your organization.
Writing a business mission statement is the easy part, making your mission statement come alive requires a lot more work from the organization’s leadership.
Strictly speaking, the real organization’s mission is not the written mission statement per se – but rather – it is the ensemble that encompasses the day-to-day behaviors of the company’s entire workforce: ensemble that is perfectly aligned with the organization’s mission.
There are outstanding-high performing companies that never took the time to writing a business mission statement; but this doesn’t mean that they don’t have a mission – nothing could be further from the truth – these organizations have a mission indeed: You can see it alive in everything these companies do.
Writing a business mission statement is useless if the behavior of your entire workforce is not aligned with your company’s mission.
YOUR MISSION’S FUEL
The strength of your company’s mission resides in your employees’ conviction, passion, and aligned behaviors with such passion.
So, what gives strength to the mission of your organization? What is its fuel?
Writing a business mission statement is just the beginning. The fuel of your mission is when your employees see the mission of your company as a dignified purpose that transcends any temporary financial gains – making just a return in the stockholders’ interest does not motivate any workforce.
The mission of any business is not to make money – it is to create value for its stakeholders (employees, customers, stockholders, etc.), and as a result of this, to generate financial gains.
James C. Collins and Jerry I. Porras in “Built to Last: Successful Habits of Visionary Companies” (Harper Business, New York, NY: 1994) use the oxygen for our human bodies as a metaphor: Oxygen is not the purpose of our human lives, but we would not be able to live without it. A business needs to make money, but it is not its mission.
Your job is to translate your company’s mission into a noble purpose in the eyes of your workforce – you have to be able to get to the point where your employees visualize your company’s Mission as a dignified purpose that rises above any short-term financial profits.
You must frame the work of your employees as part of a deep and rewarding purpose (your company’s mission) that your workforce finds fulfilling – your mission provides meaning to your people and to the workplace.
When you are able to translate your company’s Mission into passion – when your employees stand for your organization’s purpose and when they do believe in what they do – you ignite motivation, conviction, commitment, retention, and of course, alignment.
When your employees have a cause that involves the wellbeing of others, when your workforce sees their job as extending to the welfare of the end-user, they unchain their wish to achieve something meaningful – this is exactly what your mission is for: To focus and increase the performance of your organization.
The fuel – the force – of your organization’s mission is not found in writing a business mission statement, but in your organization’s capacity to transform its mission into a live force embodied in every single worker.
YOUR MISSION’S NATURE
What is a mission anyway? There is a lot of literature about this topic, and different authors call it different things: Corporate philosophy, purpose, identity, creed, etc. For clarity sake, we call it mission.
The mission explains why the organization exists – it describes its contribution to society and the value it creates for its customers. To say it more poetically: The mission explains the purpose of the organization and it captures its soul – the mission of an organization is its most fundamental reason for being.
On the contrary, the mission:“What deeper sense of purpose would motivate you to continue to dedicate your precious creative energies to this company’s efforts?”
Writing a business mission statement is not easy: It takes time and commitment – in stead, you will prefer to go do some real work. However, your mission is your organizing principle – your mission is the starting point of everything else in your organization: Your values must be aligned with your mission, your vision must be aligned with your mission, your strategy must be aligned with your mission, your recruitment and retention systems must be aligned with your mission, your performance management practice must be aligned with your mission, etc.
In one word, your culture must be aligned with your mission – or put in different words – the everyday behaviors of all your employees must be aligned with your mission.
Without a reason for being, without a purpose, without a mission, it is very difficult – if not impossible – that your company reaches its full potential. If you abandon your mission you dump your competitive advantage.
Writing a business mission statement is for the long haul: Missions don’t change – they are everlasting, they are an anchor, and a reference point.
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