Four Steps To Developing An Effective Mission Statement

Originally published
Originally published: 2/1/2013

Editor’s Note: This contribution is the second in a four-part series. Read the first column, which addresses how to create a vision statement.

Now that we have our Vision Statement, giving us a clearer understanding of what it is we want to build or create with our company, let’s dive into the next and equally important step — creating the company’s Mission Statement.

The creation of a Mission Statement can be even more over thought than our last topic, Vision. With that being said, let’s make sure that we keep the creation of your company’s Mission Statement clear and concise so everyone; your employees and your customers, know and understand it. 

I have read many business books and Mission Statements over the past several years.  Here is what I have discovered; most Mission Statements are too long and too confusing.  No one can quote them unless they pull out the document they are printed on. But without a clear, easy to remember Mission Statement that everyone can identify with, no one, unfortunately, will remember it. And it will have done you no good and served no useful purpose. In the end, you have simply put fluffy words on paper and your employees and customers are no better off for the effort.  So, how do you develop a clear and concise Mission Statement?  Here are four basic and easy to follow steps to help insure that you create an effective and workable Mission Statement.

1. The easiest and most straight forward way to get your head wrapped around this topic is this: The Mission Statement is your internal brand.  What is it you want your company to be known for internally? Once you figure this out, communicating the internal brand to both employees and customers becomes a whole lot easier.  What works here is that if your employees “get it,” that is really understand your mission, they will communicate it in all of their dealings with your customers.  Here is an example Mission Statement: “Our Company will provide the best Heating & Air-conditioning service to our customers.”  There is nothing flashy about this Mission Statement, but it sets your internal brand, tone and expectations. Your employees will remember this Mission Statement and you can lead your company from this platform. Your managers can incorporate this type of easy to remember and direct Mission Statement into their department meetings.  Again, the effectiveness is in the simplicity of the Mission Statement, not the complexity of a lot of fifty cent words that no one can remember or align themselves with. 

2. With a simple, easy to remember Mission Statement, you can effectively communicate it. You, the leader, will have a golden opportunity to lead from a point of conviction rather than from day to day problem solving. You can address employee problems by referring back to your Mission Statement for better coaching by asking yourself and the employee, “were your actions consistent with our Mission Statement?” Your leadership team will fully understand what it is they are expected to do and in what direction they are to lead their teams. I would venture to say that the most common, unspoken Mission Statements companies operate under are, “Do more and sell more.” There is nothing noble or motivating about that. In the end, we want our employees to “Do more and sell more,” but it is only achieved once your employees know what that looks like.  A clear, concise Mission Statement is the key. 

3. With clarity in your Mission Statement, your employees will transition into ambassadors of the Mission Statement. Once they “get it”, they will talk about it and they will tell your customers about it. Your employees become advertisers of your Mission Statement. I cannot think of a more powerful form of advertising. Your employees believing in something and talking about it to people who want to buy from you!

4. Your employees will be able to question the actions of the company and its direction based on the alignment of the Mission Statement. Using our example of a Mission Statement, “Our Company will provide the best Heating & Air-conditioning service to our customers,” your employees, those people who understand it and get it, that actually speak with your paying customers, can come back to you and your leadership team with ideas about new products and services that would align with your Mission Statement. You would hear something like this, “if we are truly going to deliver our customers the best, why aren’t we offering them this?” All of the sudden, your employees are engaged with offering solutions and not just operating under the guise of “Do more and sell more.” They are an integral part of your company’s Vision and Mission. This in turn drives your culture. 

All too often we overlook the importance of internal branding of our company. This is most effectively accomplished through a clear Mission Statement. We all understand external branding through advertising and marketing, we just need to take the same approach internally now.  ν

Wade Mayfield is President of Thermal Services, Inc., Omaha, NE., an hvacr firm with over 100 employees serving the commercial and residential market. Wade is both a student and practitioner of the management skills necessary to sustain company growth, empower managers and employees and build a wealth of happy and satisfied customers.  This series shares some of the basic practices of Wade’s management philosophy.  Wade was also recently elected to the board of directors for the North American Technician’s Excellence  Association (NATE). 

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