I recently facilitated a leadership workshop with a group of @Vistage executives, and one of these leaders asked me how she could keep her Mission and organizational Values alive in her organization. She created her “current” Mission statement with her team 10 or 15 years ago, and to their credit they actually made it matter for at least the first year or two. Many see it fade away literally within days of the leadership offsite where it’s created, so that alone is a feat to be proud of! Having not shared their Mission or related Values with any of their new hires ever since though, you can imagine how it would have less and less impact on the organization over time.
So how do you keep everyone’s attention on your Mission statement when so much time has passed? There must be a way to keep it top of mind as opposed to having it fall off the radar, right? Well, the following are eight great ways to engage your employees in your business and keep your Mission and Values alive so they do matter to your work.
1. Initial Ideation – The first critical step is to get it out of your head and put it down on paper. This may seem obvious, but it’s often the hardest step to take. Creating a Mission statement requires prioritizing that first brainstorming session to begin discussing your Company’s purpose and core Values along with drafting your initial ideas. More often than not, leaders get wrapped up in fighting fires and addressing their day-to-day challenges, so they don’t even complete this first piece.
2. Road Test & Refine – Some leaders think that once they develop a Mission statement or identify some core Values that they will magically appear in their organization and positively impact employee performance overnight. Remember when you draft your Mission statement that only a select few even know it exists. Sometimes, it might be just you! The next critical step is to road test it with other key leaders to gather their feedback and refine it as needed. Note I said “key leaders” not “senior executives”. While you will surely want executive buy-in, you may actually want to share the draft Mission and Values with your more influential employees, including select individual contributors and customer-facing staff. Most notably, wouldn’t you want your receptionist (aka, “Director of First Impressions”) to espouse your core Values and live your Mission in every one of his/her interactions every day?
3. Post & Publish – As soon as your Mission and Values are more final, you need to share them with all of your staff. This regularly includes posting them on conference room walls and company intranet portals. It can also include publishing them in your employee handbook or other policy and procedure guides. You might even consider a standard default screen saver for everyone’s computer or other desktop collateral that highlights what your Mission and core Values are. This information needs to be visible for everyone to see if it is ever going to influence their behavior.
4. Incorporate into Orientation & On-boarding – Another great way to share your Mission and Values is to incorporate them into your existing new hire orientation and on-boarding programs. Whatever you do for new hire orientation can easily be enhanced with even a quick overview of your new Mission and the Values that are most important to guiding your work. On-boarding continues well after these typical Day One activities though, so be sure to reinforce that message throughout the Week One/Month One timeframe by having your hiring managers and other leaders share personal examples of how your Mission and Values impact their work and ask their new hires to share their own stories of where they’ve seen the Mission and Values demonstrated.
5. Spotlight Successes – And speaking of stories, I invite you to implement a new ritual within your routine staff meetings to keep your Mission and Values fresh. At the beginning of each meeting, ask your employees to acknowledge individual co-workers who have recently demonstrated the Company’s Mission and Values by highlighting specific examples they have experienced. Alternatively, you might close every meeting with a recap of who best upheld the Mission and embodied your Values during that group session. The two minutes you’ll take doing this before or after each meeting will more than pay for itself in increased morale and improved performance.
6. Recognize Star Performers – Beyond having your staff acknowledge each other, it is incredibly motivating for senior leadership to recognize their star performers too. You could do this verbally during those same staff meetings. Consider how powerful it would be, though, if you distributed a message to all staff every Friday afternoon or perhaps the first day of the month to explicitly recognize those individuals who best personify what it is you and your Company stand for. Be specific about what these individuals did to live your Mission and Values as well as how they were recognized or otherwise stood out.
7. Incentivize Individual Efforts – Sometimes, explicit recognition can get you further than modest monetary rewards. With that said, everybody loves to have a little more cash in their pockets at the end of the day! If you want to put a bit more into engaging your employees and keeping your Mission and Values alive, then invest a little money in some $10 Starbucks or $100 American Express gift cards, for example. Your employees may even want to vote on what simple perks would be most appreciated. In some organizations, it’s simply having rights to the coveted “Employee of the Month” parking space, which actually costs you nothing!
8. Revisit & Refresh – Finally, the most effective way to ensure your Mission and Values stay not only top of mind but also current is to revisit them every year during your annual strategic planning activities. Think of it much in the same way you might prepare your annual operating budget. You’re not going to start the year without making sure you are investing your precious resources in the most effective way possible. Why would you start the year without also making sure you establish some operating guidelines for the year ahead? As your organization matures and market changes, you may find that your Mission and Values need to evolve as well.
Need some help defining – or maybe just refreshing – your Company’s Mission statement? Check out the Strategic Planning page of Plus Delta’s website for some valuable information on how to envision your ideal future and produce some breakthroughs in performance moving forward. You can also give us a call at +1.310.589.4600 or email us if you would like to discuss how best to mobilize this type of effort with your team. Everything seems to be about organizational culture and employee engagement these days, so don’t fall into the trap of fighting fires and simply addressing your day-to-day challenges every day.