Vision & Mission: How Important Are They?
Prior to starting Creating Community LLC, I can honestly say the vision and mission statements of the organizations I worked at really did not have an impact on me. They were never really discussed or actually used for guidance. Honestly, I probably rarely knew the statements, but knew they were located on the website and could find them if I needed to.
However, my opinion has changed regarding the importance of purpose for employees based on a strategy I use in the Building Your Team Towards Their Collective Purpose retreat. In this particular strategy, I ask individuals to reflect on how they commit to the vision and/or mission of the organization. Next, I have them reflect on what more they can do to support the mission and/or vision of the organization (this second question has the potential for future innovative ideas to arise and/or find the groups future focus).
Two simple questions, but big results for the team. The process of having employees reflect individually, then discuss their thoughts with their team members has proven to be effective. It assists in showing teams how they are connected, even across divisions, and often times I hear teams say it was nice to know/be reminded we are all working towards the same purpose, as we forget sometimes and stay in our silos - again simple, but effective.
So a few thoughts to ponder on your own vision, mission, and/or value statements.
First, what are they and why are they important?
Your mission statement speaks to what you do and the goals you aim to reach. This is your everyday statement.
Your vision statement focuses on your long-term goal—it’s how you hope to shape your industry, regional attitudes, or even the world.
Your values, if you choose to identify these (great fun for teams to develop these together) are what the people in your organization stand for.
What happens if you don’t have these figured out, or they’re outdated and irrelevant? Ask ten different people what your company stands for, and you may get ten different answers. That means ten different people are working toward ten different goals, and they’re all on slightly different paths.
While companies intentionally divide responsibilities and have multiple channels to reach their goals, the endpoint must be the same. We might all be drifting on different tributaries, but we’ve got to end up in the same lake if we’re going to accomplish anything meaningful.
Challenge: How quickly and accurately can you answer these questions?
What is the one thing that everyone in your organization is working toward?
What does your agency do, and why?
What does your company stand for? What are the prevailing beliefs in your company culture?
Now that you have your answers, compare them to your current mission statement, vision statement, and company values.
How closely do they match up? If they’re not aligned, this could mean your current statements either don’t speak to your agency today, or they’re not being utilized correctly.
On the other hand, if you nailed it, then way to go! But just one more follow-up question.
Do you believe that every person in your organization could do an equally awesome job answering these questions? Again, if your answer is yes, then way to go!
Finally, if you are considering designing new statements, here are some tips to consider in assisting you with the design of your mission, vision, and values.
Work together as a group to discuss the current statements or the need for new - including the leadership team and voices from every level.
Speak with your community members/customers to find out what matters to them and how they see you - this can be eye opening.
Look at example statements from companies you admire.
Keep the statements short. They should be easy for your staff to remember.
Take your statements through multiple rounds of revisions. You want to be able to use these for many, many years.
Once you have your completed statements, spread awareness and ensure everyone understands them.
Make a big deal of the new - create an employee function around them, thank everyone that has participated, hand out swag with your purpose, make it part of your company culture!
In closing, I was even given the privilege to work with a team to rework their vision statement and it was powerful to see the care and intent each employee put into the design of their statement. The process alone brought out shared conversation, collaboration, and a time to reflect on what it is you really do as a team.