HIGHER THINKING BLOG
4 Common Mistakes with Mission Statements
By Mark Griffin
When organizations want to perform at the highest level, they leverage the three (3) commitments that strengthen their organization like a strong, cement foundation:
- Mission Statement
- Vision Statement
- Core Values
With these in place, everyone in the organization starts out on the same page. Better yet, clients and customers know what to expect and it builds additional trust. They appreciate the organization’s investment and articulation of these commitments.
However, it’s not as simple as punching out three sentences to propel your organization forward. There is an important process to creating potent organizational statements to ensure they truly succeed.
Today, we’ll look at the 4 mistakes commonly made during the creation of an organization’s Mission Statement. Done poorly, a Mission Statement can actually undermine the high performance leadership hopes to attain in the first place.
Don’t let this happen to you!
Mistake #1: Not including employees in the process.
When a boss creates a Mission Statement in a vacuum, employees are far less likely to appreciate it, accept it, and, most importantly, execute it.
Instead, your organization should first get input from a group of employees that make up a good cross-section of capabilities and responsibilities throughout the organization.
At this point, too many organizations find that employees have little idea what their organization really stands for or why they are doing what they do. Unless you’ve clearly articulated a Mission Statement, you can’t blame them. After employee input, the leadership can approve and improve on what comes from the employee input group.
With a Mission Statement in place, employees do more than just show up. They arrive to work with a renewed orientation to the organization and feel like they are doing something meaningful. Everyone wants to play a part in something bigger than just themselves. A Mission Statement gives them this opportunity.
By including them from the start, employees not only start to think from a high-performing standpoint, but they also feel respected and appreciated for their input at the outset.
Mistake #2: Creating a Mission that is too broad or too lofty.
Here are examples of two Mission statements that don’t work:
- “We want to make the world a better place.”
- “We want to give our customers good service and a great price.”
Compare them to one from Charity Water. It gets to the crux of their mission.
“We’re a non-profit organization on a mission to bring clean and safe drinking water to every person on the planet.”
Or, this great example from Habitat for Humanity International:
“Seeking to put God’s love into action, Habitat for Humanity brings people together to build homes, communities and hope.”
Here are real-life examples of 50 Mission Statements to get you started. Some of the best mission statements are just 10 to 20 words long.
Mistake #3: Not rolling out the new Mission appropriately.
A good Mission Statement is woven into the very culture and fabric of your organization. It’s not just something that goes on the wall and the website. It gets incorporated into all the material of your organization.
During your hiring practices, company meetings, performance reviews, and in job descriptions, you should have direct tie-ins and references to your Mission. After all, your organization is centered on a Mission: its purpose for existing.
EXPERT TIP: Your employees are great idea factories to help find new ways to proliferate and enact your organization’s Mission statement in multiple ways that will make a big difference. Get their input.
Mistake #4: Not communicating the Mission to your key stakeholders.
Your key stakeholders are your customers, vendors, and suppliers. Your Mission statement should be integrated into your interaction with them, and in all the material, marketing, and communications you engage in together.
Your Mission Statement is the central feature around which your organization revolves. That means, it’s not just an internal document. Make sure you publicize it, every chance you get.
You don’t have to tackle the process of creating a Mission Statement alone. You can hire an outside HR expert to guide you. There are other helpful HR resources too, like the HR Mastery Toolkit we have created to make your organization high-performing in this and other areas. It teaches and guides you in the best practices of some of the top, most effective organizations in the world.
When you create a Mission Statement using a top-notch process, you’ll find that performance on every level improves. Not only do you save costs and improve quality and productivity, but being employed at your organization becomes much more enjoyable.
In my next post, we will continue examining this critical trio. I’ll give you some of the expertise I’ve gleaned from more than twenty years in the field of human resources. Come back to read: 3 Mistakes in High-Performance VISION Statements
Mark Griffin is founder and Chief Consultant at In His Name HR LLC. He has over 20 years of HR experience. You can check out his recently published book HERE. Follow Mark on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.
Join us for the 2014 CLA National Conference and meet Mark Griffin at Workshop 57 Building A Kingdom Minded Organization.
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