Mission Statements: Worthless or Worthwhile? The truth revealed.

Once again, it’s January: a time for New Year’s resolutions and goal setting. I’m a big proponent of goal setting. Not only do I teach it, but I also set goals myself. However, for goal setting to be effective, you must first set the big picture. In most companies, the big picture comes from a mission or vision statement. And these statements are shared on most company websites. The two main problems with most mission statements are that they are usually set by a group of executives only, and once these statements are set at the start of a new company, they are never looked at again. Most mission statements read something like, “We will create and sell a product to customers.” It’s generic — and boring.  But it doesn’t have to be! To convert a mission statement from worthless to worthwhile, it must be relatable to each employee. When employees understand that what they do impacts the big picture, their work has more meaning, and they tend to be more motivated.

Here’s what NOT to do:mission statement

Spend an entire weekend in a meeting with fellow executives creating a mission statement. Print the statement on business size laminated cards.On Monday morning, hand them out to your employees.

Why not? Your employees won’t have any buy-in. They could not care less. Duh!

What’s better?Schedule a meeting with your team and create the mission statement together. (And to build greater cohesion, remember to call the people who work for you “team members” and not “employees.”) Ideally, each team will create its own statement that is in line with the organization’s mission statement. When creating your mission statement, keep the following three characteristics in mind:

1. 30 words or less
2. Answer the following questions: who, what, when, where, — and especially, why
3. Incorporate values *

*Incorporating values is very important. According to Kouzes and Posner in Leadership Challenge:“Recognition of shared values provides people with a common language. Tremendous energy is generated when individual, group and organizational value are in synch. Commitment, enthusiasm, and drive are intensified: people have reasons for caring about their work. When individuals are able to care about what they are doing, they are more effective and satisfied…Shared values are the internal compasses that enable people to act both independently and interdependently.”

For example, a healthcare company should not just say, “we provide service,” but instead, “we provide compassionate service.”Notice the difference when values are incorporated? It tells not only what you do but HOW you’re going to do it. Here’s another example: “we will communicate in a timely manner” versus “we will respectfully communicate in a timely manner.” Are you getting the hang of this?

Real World Story: A manager of a manufacturing plant, who attended one of my seminars, told me this story. He was having trouble motivating his staff. It’s very difficult to motivate people who work on repetitive tasks every day. When he learned about the value of the mission statement, he did the following: he held a team meeting and asked everyone to write down their top three personal values. Then he paired team members and had each pair come to a consensus on the top three values. Then he had a spokesperson from one pair talk to a spokesperson from another pair, and they again came to a consensus. This manager and his team continued through this process until they had their final three values.   final three, the team created its department’s mission statement. The manager did one more thing. He showed each employee that what each did on the job affected the result of the final product. These two combined techniques allowed the employees to see that, even though their tasks were excruciatingly repetitive, what they did every day had value; it was not meaningless.And guess what? Motivation increased, as did productivity. If a manager at a manufacturing plant can gain such results, I think customer service departments can do it, too.Don’t you?

Now, it’s your turn. Give these techniques a try and let me know how it goes. If you have any questions or want my opinion or assistance, please let me know.

1 Response to “Mission Statements: Worthless or Worthwhile? The truth revealed.”


  1. 1 android apk reverse engineering August 1, 2013 at 9:14 pm

    Greetings! Very helpful advice in this particular post! It is the little changes which will make the most important changes.
    Thanks for sharing!


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