For many companies, Mission Statements and Policies & Procedures manuals have a lot in common – most companies have them, rarely does anyone read them, they don’t get refreshed very often, and unfortunately, they typically reside on a bookshelf in the office of the HR manager.
A properly crafted mission statement will play an instrumental role in defining your organization’s purpose and developing your culture while representing one of three parts of your brand’s essence (mission, vision, and values). When a company takes the time and effort to think through its mission and how it aligns with its brand, everyone benefits by feeling a greater sense of purpose and significance. A good mission statement provides clarity in times of confusion, serves as a guardrail for making decisions, and identifies bigger-picture goals that are achievable by everyone as a team.
However, if a mission statement is filled with such generic verbiage as being the #1 whatchamacallit manufacturer, or being the most respected or sought after in a particular industry, employees will dismiss it as corporate spew — especially if the company is far away from such achievements. It would be more believable and credible to own a mission statement focused on, or around becoming recognized for, a specific strength and/or uniqueness.
You can generally tell if a mission statement is meaningless when:
- No one knows if there is one
- No one can find it
- There are several versions of it and no one knows which version is the most current
- Employees can’t recite it
- The CEO can’t recite it
- It isn’t displayed anywhere
- It doesn’t serve as a guide in the day-to-day operation of the business
- It’s not properly aligned with the brand’s values and vision
- Its claims are too lofty and thus unachievable
- It only exists because the CEO thinks s/he needs one just to have one
- Parts of it were plagiarized from one owned by another company primarily because it sounded impressive
Building a mission statement must start with defining the brand. If your brand is not properly differentiated, weak, or even fuzzy, developing a strong brand for your company and identifying your values will be the prerequisites for creating your mission statement. Once you put all the pieces together to define the essence of your brand, you’ll wonder how you ever got along without it.