The "creating a culture" series (Part two)
Defining your mission.
In the first installment of our series, we discussed effective leadership. We detailed what it looks like and how it impacts an organization. Now that we have a clear understanding of leadership, let’s dive into how and why it steers the ship. In this article, we will go through the various components of your company’s mission and how it can drive or hinder the organization’s success.
Gone are the days of companies simply being able to produce a product, sell its product, and collect the profits. In the modern age of social media and activism, companies must now realize their corporate impact and start to better manage how their brand is received by the masses. Often times, an organization’s mission statement is one of the first ways consumers get to know who a company is and what they are about. Unfortunately, this is frequently where businesses stumble. I don’t want to tell you how to build a mission statement, there are plenty of articles online that will give you the cookie cutter framework. I want to address why you have that statement and change your view on its importance.
Living into your purpose.
We touched on this a little bit in the first part of our series. Defining your core values and mission statement isn’t the end line for your company. You aren’t done putting in the work once you’ve finished your mini workshop on corporate building. Your mission statement is only purposeful if it is something that you are willing to let guide your actions on a daily basis.
We’ve likely all seen the basic framework of a mission statement. The “who”, “what”, and “why” that gives clarity and defines how your company operates. But how do you get there? Whether your organization is 5 employees or 5,000; who defines your mission? These are important questions because they go a long way in determining just how successful your mission statement really is.
A lot of advice you can find on the internet will tell you the first place to start is to interview your leadership, which is why we started out addressing “effective leadership” in our first installment of the series. Getting the views of leadership is extremely important. What is even more important is examining your leadership and the diversity of thought and representation that you have in those positions. Are those the people that represent your employees and the organization best? Or are they the group that align the most with the corporate desire for profit? Sometimes the mission statement and the bottom line won’t align.
Even when the two don’t align, it is important to have a clear mission so that your employees understand their purpose. A mission statement can be more than just a few lines written on your company website. It can have added value that may seem immeasurable. It gives employees an attachment to the greater cause. As someone who creates the mission statement, it’s your job to make that attachment meaningful.
Honoring your values
What does your company value? Businesses are built to make money, everyone knows that. The organization’s direction is towards profit but what is the organization’s purpose? What inspires your employees, from the CEO to the frontline worker, to push for success every day? It’s a tough question to answer, especially as your company grows larger and larger.
“To be Earth’s most customer-centric company, where customers can find and discover anything they might want to buy online, and endeavors to offer its customers the lowest possible prices.”
Amazon is one of the largest companies in the world and is lauded for their customer-focused mission statement. The problem that most companies run into, including Amazon, is forgetting that their “customer-centric company” is built by the employees; many of which are customers as well. Navigating that space and living into your mission for both your customers and employees can be a tricky task.
If loyalty, respect, and trust are a part of your value system then it makes most sense to display those values on a daily basis throughout your workplace. Once your mission statement and core values become a part of the culture of your workplace, it permeates throughout, and the consumers reap the benefits. Thats what a customer-centric company is all about. Target the consumer by creating an environment those consumers would be excited about.
Managing your impact.
As we navigate what is now being known as “The Great Resignation”, companies are realizing the importance of talent retention. A large part of this retention has to do with the culture the organizations create. A culture that often begins and ends with your mission. Employees are increasingly prioritizing their values over company profits or a paycheck. Organizations who put out “marketing” mission statements, but have an entirely different culture behind closed doors, will often struggle to find success on a consistent basis.
Your mission statement is not just for the consumers; it’s for everyone in your organization to understand why they are there and what impact you all want to make. An article put out by Georgetown’s Center for Social Impact Communication shared some interesting insight on the shift towards corporate responsibility within the millennial generation.
According to the 2015 Cone Communications Millennial CSR Study, “More than nine-in-10 Millennials would switch brands to one associated with a cause (91% vs. 85% U.S. average), and two-thirds use social media to engage around CSR (66% vs. 53% U.S. average).” The study also finds that “Millennials say they are prepared to make personal sacrifices to make an impact on issues they care about, whether that’s paying more for a product (70 percent vs. 66 percent US average), sharing products rather than buying (66 percent vs. 56 percent) or taking a pay cut to work for a responsible company (62 percent vs. 56 percent).”
Offering a high salary and great benefits to employees just isn’t enough anymore. Diversifying portfolios and multiple streams of income are allowing a new wave of employees to prioritize more than just money. Companies have to weigh their impact on society when deciding what direction they want to move in. Whether it’s climate change, social justice, or any myriad of causes that people support; the bottom line is companies have to start caring and that begins with your guiding principles and fundamental beliefs as an organization.
This is the second of my three-part series on “Creating a culture” within an organization. You can learn more about the mind behind the writing and more of my thoughts on leadership HERE. The next installment of the series will cover how to hold your organization accountable to maintaining the culture you’ve created. Stay tuned!