Part two of a three part series on developing a strong company culture. Read part one here.
If you met someone in an elevator and they asked what your company does, could you accurately explain it before you reach your floor? If you’re like many people, you’d probably give a quick three to five word description like “we do software development” or “we’re a small chain of coffee shops.” Yes, you’re answering the question, but with only the bare minimum of information. The elevator doors open, and all your new acquaintance really knows is you do something with computers. Or you sell coffee. Information that will be tucked away or completely forgotten as they move on with their day.
So, how do you share the who, what, and why of your company without breaking out flow charts and annual reports? It may be as simple as developing a solid mission statement.
The main purpose of a mission statement is to clearly and concisely answer the question, “Why do we exist?” and to lay out your overall company goals and how you will achieve them. And it does it all in a quick, easily understood – and easily shared – statement.
Some examples of strong mission statements from today’s leading companies include:
To organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful. -Google
To bring the best personal computing experience to students, educators, creative professionals, and consumers around the world through innovative hardware, software, and Internet offerings. -Apple®
We will be the easiest pharmacy retailer for customers to use. -CVS Corporation
To bring inspiration and innovation to every athlete in the world. -Nike Inc.
To be earth’s most customer centric company; to build a place where people can come to find and discover anything they might want to buy online. -Amazon.com
Writing Your Mission Statement
Writing a strong, succinct mission statement isn’t easy. There’s a lot of information you need to convey with very little wiggle room to do it. And while the process can vary depending on how your company is organized, there are a few best practices you can follow to help focus your thoughts. Remember to keep your core values in mind and start by answering these key questions:
- What is your product or service?
- Who is your target consumer?
- How are your products, services, processes, or delivery unique?
Once you have answered the three questions, the next step is to turn the answers into a statement. This part may come easier to some people, but take your time and be very deliberate in your phrasing. You want your mission statement to be both comprehensive and memorable, but not overly complex. Try to keep it to one or two sentences in length if possible. A few key tips to keep in mind:
- Don’t forget your core values.
- Keep it quick and concise.
- Avoid overly specific jargon and buzzwords.
- Ask your workforce or leadership team for input.
- Think of it as how you would quickly explain everything about your business to someone you meet in an elevator.
It can also be helpful to write several versions of your mission statement and then ask your employees or other company leaders which one resonates and most accurately represents how they view the company’s purpose.
The Importance of Living Your Values and Mission
The time and effort put forth developing your mission statement is all for not without a true commitment from your workforce to uphold it. Think of it as a rally cry for your business. When your workforce is united around a unified mission, there’s no limit to what can be accomplished. Your employees will be more engaged and focused on achieving strategic goals. Your customers will know they are working with a company that has a well-defined path toward success. It can boost morale and productivity, and reduce turnover and retention issues. By establishing both core values and a mission statement, you are better equipped to assess where your business is, and perhaps more importantly, where it’s going.
Does your company have an established mission statement? Share it with us in the comments section below.
In the third and final installment of this three part series about developing a strong company culture, we’ll discuss how to use your core values and mission statement to not only attract top talent, but also how to keep them.