What’s Your Mission?
Mission statements get a bad rap in some quarters, mostly for being generic or trite or just too self-congratulatory to have any meaning. But a well-conceived, well-written mission statement can pack a lot of power.
In addition to succinctly stating your organization’s reason for being and its go-to-market approach, a mission statement can mobilize and motivate stakeholders to focus their attention — and action — on what you aspire to accomplish.
Crafting a power-packed mission statement, however, is a process — one Human Capital Media went through not that long ago. After determining our niche was serving as “the leading voice for companies that care about their people,” we put pen to paper (fingers to keyboards?) and drafted HCM’s current mission statement:
Through award-winning content, events, awards and research, we deliver valuable news, analysis, tools and solutions to make the most of human capital, as well as create a vibrant community where decision-makers and solution providers connect to solve their greatest workplace challenges.
We think it sums up nicely what we do, why we do it, who we do it for, and how that affects our work every day. Getting to this point took time, more than a few “lively” discussions, and lots of revising and editing, but in the end the effort we put in was a big part of the pay-off.
In fact, that’s one of the biggest lessons we learned about creating a mission statement: The process can be as important as the end product. There’s a unique closeness and camaraderie that comes from really trying to figure out why we’re here and why we’re all in this together. And sharing this process of discovery often translates into more effective teams, clearer objectives, higher motivation and more productive collaboration down the road.
What other lessons did we learn?
Involve everyone: HCM planned an off-site event to brainstorm about the mission statement. But it wasn’t just for senior leadership. We invited the entire staff, plus some outside consultants, and a few partners and independent contractors. This way we were sure to get the broadest possible input and a more complete picture of the business — including identifying some strengths and weaknesses those too close to the day-to-day might not see. Hearing from people who don’t normally get a chance to speak up or speak their minds was really enlightening.
Entertain all ideas: When it comes to brainstorming, there’s no such thing as a silly idea. Sometimes the best concepts arise from seemingly simple, even offhand remarks. To set the tone for HCM’s off-site event, we established a basic ground rule: Ask everyone to share their ideas and opinions and then really listen, without arguing, and without trying to convince them they’re wrong or persuading them to see things a certain way.
Be true to yourself: You certainly can stimulate ideas by studying other companies’ mission statements, but it’s absolutely essential to make your mission statement 100 percent your own. Your organization is unlike anyone else’s. Don’t just say what every other business in your industry says. Be honest. Be clear. Be unique. Most of all, believe what you write. Your employees, partners and customers will, too.
Written by: Diane Landsman
Diane Landsman is familiar to many in the HR community as a former editorial director at Human Capital Media. Now an independent communications strategist, writer and editor she helps enterprises educate, engage, influence and sometimes even entertain their audiences. Her specialty is crafting original content across media channels, from websites that attract searchers and keep them engaged to email campaigns, articles that put organizations on the map, and executive-level whitepapers, speeches, and op/ed pieces.