[Note: This guest post was written by Kim Plyler, a communications professional and media strategist. CEO and founder of SahlComm, Kim works with high level clients in the technology, finance, manufacturing, cyber security, NGOs and nonprofit sectors. Her company’s mission is to further the mission of others and help improve humanity.]
5 Ways to Boost Your Mission Awareness by Kim Plyler
Your mission awareness: It’s why your company exists — its reason for being. It’s why you do what you do, day after day.
You may have developed your company’s mission statement through workshops or long meetings; you may even have done research or brought in consultants to help. At the end of the process, you came up with a statement that says who you are and what you do. And now, after investing all that time and energy into crafting it, you need to find ways to make it relevant to the day-to-day life of your company.
1) Live the mission yourself. If you don’t want that mission to fade into the background as just another bit of corporate jargon, you need to find ways to keep it alive. And that starts with you, personally, as a leader of your company. Whether on posters or Post-Its or messages you write to yourself on your shower walls, find ways to remind yourself constantly that the mission statement you wrote together needs to guide pretty much every single thing you do while you’re working.
If you find day after day that it’s getting difficult to line up your work with your mission, then it’s time to examine if the mission needs revising to reflect your actual priorities — or if your company needs revising to better reflect its mission!
2) Demonstrate your mission to clients and customers. If you were to ask your customers or clients what your company’s mission is, what would they say? Even if you don’t have the mission plastered all over your packaging, business cards, or website, would they still be able to figure out all of the key aspects of your mission just from their interaction with you?
When opportunities present themselves, sometimes you can ask customers or clients directly, using surveys, focus groups, or interviews. If that’s not possible, just do the simple thought experiment of walking through an interaction with your company from the customer’s point of view. Even when it’s unspoken, your mission should shine through every interaction. And if it doesn’t — or, worse, if parts of the customer’s experience run counter to your mission’s goals — that’s a great place to start improving your customer interactions.
3) Hire people whose personal missions dovetail with the company’s. This is your best bet for finding employees who will love working for your company, who will stick around, and who will give you their very best work. Starting with resumes and cover letters, search for individuals whose interests and passions match with the goals you’re trying to achieve as a company. Continue looking for this through the interview process, to see how authentically their big priorities match with your company’s.
The time they spend at your company is a big investment on the part of your employees. If they feel that the effort they give you is also helping them fulfill their own professional reasons for being, they will be among your happiest and most fulfilled employees.
4) Find aspects of the mission that speak to individual employees. Maybe you’ve had some employees on staff since before you created your mission. Or maybe the energy of some of your new employees seems to be flagging. As a company leader, you can make a difference by helping connect those employees with the parts of your company’s mission that best speak to them.
You might have individuals who are passionate about the environment, or about local business, or about connecting people with each other, or about solving problems. Hopefully, there’s some part of your mission that lines up with one of their interests. Make sure you or the employees’ supervisors are working with them to help them figure out how and why their passions are relevant to what you do as a company.
5) Listen to employees and customers. Inevitably, logistics and crises and distractions will pull your company away from its mission no matter how lofty your goals or how dedicated you are in pursuing them. Your employees and your customers will probably notice this before you do, because they’re the ones most affected by it.
Work to create a culture where feedback is encouraged and welcomed, especially when it helps your organization refocus on what everyone agrees is most important. Great ideas come from everywhere, so make sure every suggestion is evaluated on its merits — and don’t reject anything just because it’s wacky or because it runs against standard practices or the way things have always been done. Even if a suggestion isn’t practical, playing around with the idea behind it might shake loose a great new innovation that helps you as a company refocus on the mission you all want to carry out.