Do you know your company’s mission statement? Does your company even have a mission statement? Many people think of company mission statements as fluffy pieces of corporate jargon. But in reality, a mission statement is an incredibly powerful strategic tool for activating your employees.
I’ll admit that I wasn’t fully aware of the power of mission statements until I attended a training session on the topic recently. During the session, teams were asked to create their own personal mission statements, starting with choosing five values that were most important to them. I thought this would be an exercise that employees would trudge through, but nothing could have been further from the truth. I watched as people were completely engaged with the activity, and later I heard feedback from managers that the activity had led to a noticeable improvement in morale and performance, even weeks later.
What is it about mission statements that help to bring out the best in employees? Research shows that there are three key areas where mission statements really help to transform the employee experience and ultimately drive productivity:
Clarity in organizational values helps employees prioritize better
Anyone who’s worked at a large company is probably familiar with the feeling of being instructed to achieve a set of objectives that are competing and maybe even conflicting. Different leaders and divisions have different priorities, and employees often find themselves caught in the middle, unsure whose goals to prioritize.
When the entire organization is aligned to a clear set of written objectives that are visible to everyone, employees are better equipped to make the right decisions about how to allocate their time and effort. Managers are better able to set lower level objectives that support the overall goals of the company. Even the rank and file employees, when faced with a long list of to dos, will be able to choose which are most important based on the degree to which they support the mission.
Perhaps most importantly, a clearly articulated mission statement helps employees to know what not to do. All potential activities can be evaluated based on whether they do or do not support the mission, and employees can avoid wasting time on initiatives that don’t.
Mission statements help employees find meaning in their work
A good mission statement shows employees how their work will improve the lives of their customers, their community and perhaps even the world. Take for example Patagonia’s oft-cited mission statement:
Build the best product, cause no unnecessary harm, use business to inspire and implement solutions to the environmental crisis.
When employees understand how their work contributes toward a larger goal, they find meaning in their work. And when employees find their work to be meaningful, they feel a sense of ownership over their work. This sense of ownership leads to stronger commitment to the work, and greater engagement, and increased creativity when tackling challenges. All of these lead to improved productivity.
A strong mission statement helps employees to become ambassadors
One of the most important aspects of a great mission statement is that it defines why your company exists and what makes it different than every other competitor. When your company’s raison d’être is clear, every employee can clearly articulate to business partners and customers why your company is the best. They’ll be more passionate about your company, and they’ll be able to become your most effective brand ambassadors.
If your company has yet to draft a mission statement, there’s no time like the present to do some organizational soul searching and decide what you stand for. Your employees will thank you