We have a confession to make. We hate Mission Statements.
In his newest book, The Advantage, Patrick Lencioni quotes one that sounds like every mission statement you’ve ever seen framed on a company wall. “Our mission is to be the premier provider . . . “ You know the rest. It turns out to be the mission statement of Dunder Mifflin, the fictitious, bumbling company at the center of the TV show “The Office.”
Mission statements may be well intentioned. But they typically are so intangible and aspirational that they are useless when it comes to defining the culture, purpose and focus of a business.
To create a real sense of mission and direction in your business, try figuring out what purpose, cause or passion truly drives you and your colleagues. Hopefully, something more important than money gets you and your best people out of bed every day to do the difficult work. What is it?
Here are a few examples:
- For Toyota, it’s making the world better by providing safe, reliable, affordable transportation.
- For Zappos, it’s building a great company through extraordinary levels of customer service.
- For one of our clients (a medical practice), it’s being known for being as technically skilled as the Mayo Clinic and as good at guest experience as a Four Seasons hotel.
- For another of our clients, it is simply, “Doing the Job Right.” To them that means never cutting a corner, not even to offer a lower-priced option that some customers might want.
This is the “Why” of your business. Figuring it out and stating it clearly will attract people who genuinely want to make the journey with you and will make them much more engaged in their work. (To learn more about why this is true, watch this short but fascinating video.)
Should you care about that? Research shows that, at best, 30% of workers are actually engaged in their jobs. 40-50% are just putting in time, and 20-30% are so disengaged that they’re actually working against you. That’s if your company is just normal. How much stronger would your company be (in particular, how much stronger than your competitors) if 100% of your people gave you everything they had, every day?
You can make that happen. The starting place is making sure that everyone in your company knows how the work they do helps, even in a small way, to make the world a better place.