5 steps to turn your organization’s mission statement into a way of working
My client has been in her role as lead of her team for the past year or so. She’s put a good deal of her efforts into strengthening the team culture and creating a more collaborative and client-focused mindset within her department.
At the beginning of the year, she worked with other members of the organization’s executive team to develop a mission statement for her department. Shortly after it was finished, she proudly shared the new mission with the team in a town hall style meeting. Months later, she’s dismayed at how few people on the team have grasped the mission – she randomly polled a few of her staff about the mission statement a few days ago, and some didn’t even know that a mission statement existed!
Naturally, she’s disappointed that the team hasn’t adopted or isn’t fully aware of the mission. How, she wonders, can she get her team to not only know what the mission is, but live it everyday?
Training your team on your organization’s mission statement is not a once-and-done activity. Many organizational leaders put a great deal of effort and thought into the creation of their company or department mission statement, carefully crafting each word until it conveys a message that both inspires and succinctly describes what the organization does.
But once the hard work of creating the mission statement is done, the task of getting employees to learn and embody the words of the mission statement is the next big hurdle – one might rightfully conclude that this is the hardest work of all.
As a result, mission statements often end up being treated as canned corporate speak or a motivational poster without real-life impact. Organizations who move beyond this mindset and successfully instill the mission into their employees are poised to experience profound shifts in organizational culture.
So how do they do it? Here’s one approach for taking your company’s mission statement from words to action.
From Mission To Action
5 Steps to Turn Your Organization’s Mission Statement into a Way of Working
Step 1: De-construct the mission statement
Take action phrases from the mission statement and develop both marketing and training materials around them. Do the same for adjectives and descriptor words.
Step 2: Create marketing and training materials
Suggested marketing materials:
Wall posters of the mission statement with action phrases or descriptors highlighted and explained
3D toys, puzzles, games, figurines, etc. that demonstrate the action phrases or descriptors in some way or have action phrases or descriptors printed on them
Suggested training materials:
Self-directed eLearning modules – a la the security essentials training
Recorded video presentation of a member of leadership explaining the mission and its importance
Animated explainer videos
Step 3: Include mission statement in required annual training
Require that each employee attend an annual introduction or refresher training that includes or exclusively focuses on the mission statement. Require the training to be completed within the first 30 days of employment for new hires and once a year for existing employees.
Step 4: Provide and promote ongoing experiences
When launching a new or modified mission statement, provide 2-3 experiential learning activities or sessions within 6 weeks of revealing the new mission statement. Experiential training should be designed to create ‘a-ha’ moments that allow participants to act and reflect on the concepts of the mission statement.
After each training session or after all sessions are completed, recommend and regularly encourage activities for your team to continue ‘living the mission’, including:
Book clubs – read and discuss business-related books that focus on the action phrases and descriptors in the mission statement
Internal improvement projects - suggest and work on internal-facing improvement initiatives that embody the concepts of the action phrases and descriptors in the mission statement
Community service projects - plan and participate in external activities and hands-on projects that embody the concepts of the action phrases and descriptors in the mission statement
Informal social groups - encourage small group participation in fun, social activities that are aligned with or themed with the action phrases and descriptors of the mission statement
Step 5: Encourage and reward demonstration of the mission in action
Create a rewards and recognition program to identify, recognize and reward projects or teams that have demonstrated the action phrases and descriptors highlighted in Step 1. Be sure to focus rewards and recognition primarily or exclusively on team and group efforts, not individuals. This will serve to encourage teamwork, asking for help, collaborating and having shared experiences; and will discourage isolation, ‘hero’ behavior or the tendency to ‘pick favorites’.
Kisha Solomon is an Atlanta-based writer, knowledge worker and serial expat. She writes witty, poignant stories about the lessons she’s learned from her life, work and travels. She deals with the sometimes frustrating and often humorous side effects of being black, female and nerdy. When she’s not writing working or travelling, you can find her in deep conversation with herself or her four-legged familiar, Taurus the Cat.