Building on last week’s post about making mission statements memorable, I’ve seen too many organizations fall victim to the “Field of Dreams” approach to mission statements – if you post it, they (staff) will follow.
Awareness is only half the battle
Developing and disseminating the mission is not enough. While mission statements may be beautifully crafted, they may not be easy to relate to. For example, what does it mean to you (as an employee) to work for an outfit whose mission is to:
- exceed the expectations of customers, partners, and fellow employees? Or,
- achieve superior financial results for stockholders? Or,
- create quality solutions and services that foster innovation, creativity and production for global customers and partners?
These are adapted from real companies. I didn’t make them up, honest!
Meaningful mission statements
The problem is most statements couldn’t pass the that’s-nice-but-what-does-it-really-mean? test. To be meaningful, a mission statement needs to be translated into specific, even measurable behaviors.
One way to accomplish this is to complete the following sentence:
Our mission is [insert your firm’s mission statement], which means [fill-in with the appropriate behaviors, based on internal and/or external standards of performance].
Translating the mission this way may not be easy, but it is a worthwhile exercise. And depending on your organization, one size may not fit all. Various departments or units within the company may have different translations or may need to develop their own mission statements based on the corporate or institutional mission.
Don’t get lost in translation
Regardless of how you do it (via the translation exercise above or some other way), the point is: Will employees know what is expected of them in helping the organization fulfill its mission?
Employees will know what the mission statement really means when they can answer that question.
But wait, there’s even more to make a mission statement memorable and meaningful. I’ll cover this in my next post.