You spent hours swatching, matching and testing in order to choose a paint color for your walls.
You, your accountant and a team of lawyers spent a month finessing the disclaimers on your invoices.
You spent months (or even years) writing an employee policy manual.
But your corporate mission and vision? That one sublime, supreme statement which reflects your brand’s core values and the ideal of all you want your business to be? That one you knocked out in a single staff meeting.
Believing in the words that you wrote about your brand’s core values, mission and vision, and hoping to inspire others with your intentions, you made an announcement or two to employees and customers, blew it up poster-sized, put it in a beautiful frame and hung it on the wall.
There it sits, in all its glory, but no one remembers it. It’s not a source of inspiration to your staff because apart from reading it during employee orientation, to them, it’s no more than a lifeless wall ornament. Your customers don’t connect with it – or worse, are even offended by it – when their experience with your business does not match up to the promise that it conveys.
Why do I believe that? Because as human beings our actions speak louder than our words when it comes to telling others about what is important to us.
Core values without actions are no values at all.
What is important to us, gets attention. And resources. And research. And funding. What is truly important to us receives whatever is needed to keep it alive and well. And right now, your mission and vision statement isn’t on the receiving end of any of that.
Don’t get me wrong, I realize that all of those other things are important, too. Mistakes can cost money or even result in law suits on the part of customers or employees. How you present your business to the public is intrinsic to your branding efforts.
If your mission and vision statement is really important to you – if it is a genuine reflection of the ultimate ideal of what you believe your business can be and the good that it can do in the world and in the lives of your customers – then all of the actions you take, goals you set, strategies you undertake and tactics you employ to reach them – all of it should tie back in spirit to the mission and vision of your business. Because all of those day to day interactions, all of your business policies and operations, all of the goals you set and the means you take to reach them — all of those little things are the means by which you will reach (or fail to reach) the ideals laid out in your mission and vision.
See what I mean? If your business decisions, operating policies, goals, hiring and training investments and all of the other little and big things that you do every day aren’t aligned with your corporate mission and vision, how in the world do you expect to achieve them? If your corporate mission and vision are just pretty words hanging lifelessly on the wall, you never will.
Your mission and vision statement should be the guiding and determining factor when it comes to your long and short range plans, your marketing plans, and the decisions made behind closed doors in staff meetings. Your plans and operating policies should all be measured against their relevancy to your mission and vision and whether the strategies and tactics you will employ are in harmony with the promises you make to your customers within them.
As should your hiring decisions; after all, what is more important to the customer experience than the individuals they will encounter or who are responsible to create and facilitate them? Job descriptions should tell employees how the role they fulfill helps to fulfill the corporate mission and vision, and the manner in which they are expected to create them. Performance evaluations and salary determinations should be tied to whether and how employees embody your corporate mission and vision in the fulfillment of their duties.
The training you provide for employees and the education and resources you provide for your customers should all contribute toward fulfillment of your corporate mission and vision. The ambiance and atmosphere you create for customers and the climate and employee culture you provide for your team should reflect the ideals contained within them. And of course the overall experience that you create for your customers.
If your mission statement is truly your ideal, then keep it alive. Make it the focal point for yourself and for your employees. Work with vendors and manufacturers who will support the spirit of your mission and vision and partner with you in ways that are strategic in order to help you fulfill them. Hire people who will buy in, readily and with enthusiasm, and who have the ability to embody what it is that you want to provide for your customers day in and day out.
At one time, your mission and vision were the center of your workplace universe, at least for a little while. Perhaps they still are truly important to you, but you assumed that people would understand just how important they are, simply because they the natural ideal for your business, without making them the literal measure of your business decisions and operations. Bring your mission and vision back to life by ensuring that they permeate every area of your business.