What’s Your Organization’s Real Mission?Posted: May 17, 2013
Like most businesses these days, your organization probably has a mission statement meant to inspire its employees. It’s part of every employee handbook and hanging on nice plaques around the office. It probably includes words like integrity, respect, authenticity, passion, and excellence. For far too many organizations, this mission statement is just something put in writing that nobody pays much mind to. How does your organization really define success? To find out, you need to look at what messages are sent on a regular basis and, more importantly, what actions are taken.
How often do you find yourself talking about your organization’s mission to your team? How often, instead, do you hear phrases like share-holder value, maximize profits, quarterly targets, or incentive-based bonus coming out of your mouth? If those words occur more regularly in your communications with your team than the ones in the mission statement, then that’s what your team will perceive as your real mission. And nothing is less inspiring than making more money for someone else just for the sake of making them richer.
Real leaders and organizations that truly want to inspire their employees don’t just pay lip-service to a mission statement, they live it each and every day. At every opportunity, they take a moment to remind their team of the mission and how they are individually contributing to making that positive difference. It’s brought up in meetings, emails, performance reviews, and one on ones. Your team wants to know how they contribute and what value they bring to themselves, each other, your customers, and the community. If they can see these, they’ll stay with you through thick and thin. If, on the other hand, the only motivation for an employee to stay with you is a bigger bonus or the next promotion, then they’ll leave you at the drop of a hat when a better offer for a larger bonus or quicker promotion comes along from somewhere else.
But it’s not just the messages you send, it’s the actions you take. Who gets the bonuses in your organization? Who gets promoted? Those actions show a companies true mission statement. If Jack got promoted for being top sales person even though he never helps his team, the rest of the employees understand that all their leader or the organization cares about is getting a sale and who cares how. As a leader, it’s essential to live your mission statement through your actions. Speak with authenticity, act with integrity, support your team, pursue excellence for its own sake. Basically, lead by example.
Once you do that, your team will follow you. And, even if others in your organization aren’t following suit quite yet, once they see the results you are driving through employee and customer satisfaction, they’ll start to pay attention and get the message. With constant pressure to drive results, it may not be easy to focus on your real mission over short term gains. But when you do, you will go home each night proud of the fact that you worked to make a real difference that sets an example for others to model.