Contrary to once-popular belief, most employees want to do a good job. They want to help the business grow and thrive – to be a part of something larger than themselves. However, without direction, it becomes impossible for them to do that. This leads to disengagement, reduced morale, and poor outcomes.
The answer to those challenges? Connecting your employees with the company mission. It’s a critical step to ensure that they have the direction they need, but it also drives engagement and boosts morale in measurable, meaningful ways.
What’s a Mission, Anyway?
Most companies today have a mission – it’s usually listed on the website and somewhere in the employee handbook. However, it’s often an empty sentiment not really practiced by any but a handful of the C-suite. That’s problematic for many reasons.
Your company’s mission is a statement of purpose. What does your organization exist to achieve? It must be more than providing a return for shareholders – it needs to be something meaningful to the wider world, the industry, and your employees.
That doesn’t mean your mission has to be boring or staid, though. It can (and should) excite your people and even those outside of your organization. To develop an accurate mission statement, you will need to consider the following:
- Why does your organization exist in the first place?
- What niche do you fill, what need do you serve, or what problem(s) do you solve?
- What makes your company unique? It could be attention to detail, product quality, or production while protecting the environment, or it could be community involvement, or something else altogether.
Combine those three things and what you have is your mission. Now you just need to codify and formalize it. Once you do that, you need to get employee buy-in. How, though?
Too many organizations take a set-it-and-forget-it view of their mission. It’s on the website, isn’t that enough? That’s the wrong path to take.
If you don’t live your mission, if it’s not baked into everything that your organization does, then it’s not really your mission. It’s just so many pretty words strung together. You can bet that your employees will cue in on that fact and they’ll disengage.
So, to ensure that your employees are on board with the mission, your organization must live and breathe its mission. It must connect with every process within the business. Everything you do must somehow align with the wider mission.
Not only that, but you need to ensure that your employees see how things connect to the mission, including their own responsibilities in their role. For instance, if your mission is to create positive change in the community, how does Ann in accounting help achieve that mission? What about Roger in marketing? Map out how individual roles intersect with and support the company’s mission.
Make It Visible
Codifying and communicating your mission are great ways to start, but they’re not enough. You also need to ensure that your mission is always visible to employees. How does that work?
Your mission should be a focal point, and it should be something that everyone within the organization can relate to. Look at Zappos as an example – they feel that they are a customer service organization that “just happens to sell shoes”. Ikea is another great example. The company’s mission is to create “a better everyday life” by partnering with its customers. That idea is embodied in every aspect, including the language used in the company’s marketing material.
Highlight Mission-Related Successes
Every organization has meetings where the most recent achievements and successes are discussed. However, it’s important to broaden the discussion beyond the milestones themselves. Connect them with how they drive the company forward in terms of mission – what do those milestones do to achieve the mission? What do they mean in light of your mission?
For instance, suppose you run a local branded car dealership. You just passed your 100,000th service in the service center. That’s a laudable achievement, but how does it matter in light of your mission? Well, if your mission was to support the local community, it could connect to the achievement in a couple of ways:
- 100,000 local customers receive the best possible repairs and service.
- Local mechanics and specialists are working to support area residents.
- The connection between 100,000 customers, your dealership, and the mechanics you employ creates a ripple effect – parts stores are supported, paint shops can prosper, and more.
These are just basic examples – it’s up to you to find the intersection of achievement and mission. Highlight how those successes push the company forward in pursuit of its mission and you’ll drive engagement and improve morale.
Keep It at the Forefront
Once you’ve codified and connected your mission, you can’t just let it go. It’s important to keep it at the forefront of your employees’ minds. You can do this in several different ways, including the following:
- Survey Them – One option is to regularly survey your employees with a focus on company mission, values, and ethics. Simple questions like, “Do you know the company’s mission” can help keep everyone focused.
- Trim the Fat – Another choice is to use your mission as a scalpel to trim the fat, so to speak. For instance, if there’s an initiative that’s struggling, ask yourself – is this critical to our success? If not, consider cutting it so you can focus on mission-critical efforts, instead.
- Connect Individual Goals – Job duties should connect to the mission, but so should individual goals. Encourage your people to set personal goals that relate to the company’s wider mission and then check-in to see how they’re progressing toward those goals over time.
Creating a Happier Culture with Mission Adherence
Connecting your employees with the company mission is vital. Without the ability to do so, you’ll see declining levels of engagement and morale. The company itself will flounder, as no organization can succeed without a guiding star to follow. Create a company mission and then align your employees – you’ll be surprised at the impact on your company culture and overall success.