How many places have you worked where there was some big plaque on the wall, inscribed with a bunch of fancy words stating the ‘mission’ of the organization? How many of them had words like ’synergistic’ or ‘actualize’ or ‘core competencies’ or some other nonsense word on it? How many said they put the customer first?
Almost all were full of those nonsense words and put the customer first. Unfortunately most of those words meant nothing in the day-to-day operations of the business.
Few people ever read the mission statement of an organization once they’ve gone through the staff manual in their first week. In most organizations you couldn’t walk up to a random employee, ask them what the mission is and have them know it. If they did, they’re unlikely to have an examples about how it’s lived out in the business day to day. They likely can’t tell you how they’ve lived it out in their job this week.
Now that you’ve worked on your WHY and your 4 Quadrants, let’s look at how to communicate these ideas through your company so that your mission has tangible results with your customers.
Getting your people to invest in the mission of your organization starts by telling them what the mission is, regularly. Hanging a plaque on the wall isn’t enough, you need to remind them about the mission at least every month.
You can’t just repeat the words on the plaque. You need to give them examples to demonstrate how the mission is being lived out in the organization every day. You do this by telling stories of the people you helped that fit into your mission. I remind myself of my mission by reviewing the stories of the business owners I’ve helped turn failing businesses into six-figure companies.
At least once a month, in your team meeting, tell your team a story about how one of them lived your mission with a client. With this constant repetition and example you’re going to have employees that strive to become the story you tell. They’re going to live the mission out with your clients every day.
Since you’ve got employees thinking about the mission and trying to live it out daily, it’s time to give them some freedom. That means if you’re in the product business and you’re striving for happy customers, you let the front line support people give refunds to unhappy customers without a huge process they have to jump through.
This means that you let your account managers make promises to customers that they can fulfill without you needing to be in every conversation.
If you take away the empowerment of your people then you’re going to have two issues. First, you’re going to need to be everywhere all the time. This is going to limit the growth of your business.
Second, you’re mission is going to turn into fancy words on a plaque. If you’re not giving your employees freedom to live out the mission of the organization, you clearly don’t trust them and that makes the mission a sham.
An animal training maxim is that you reward the good behaviour and make the poor behaviour hard to do. While it make sound terrible, my wife and I take this training thought into teaching our kids to be great people.
My six-year-old can shower on her own. She can wash herself fine and enjoys a bit of freedom of being a ‘big girl’. The big problem is that most of the time she ends up picking at my wife’s soap and destroying it. We started out by getting mad and punishing her for it and little changed. We’d be angry after a shower and she’d be in tears and sad for days that she wrecked the soap. She’d go on about being a terrible kid and ask why we even liked her. We’d spend days telling her we loved her and reinforcing how awesome she is. Then the cycle would repeat itself.
Recently we made the poor behaviour hard by moving the soap to a level where she can’t reach it. We hand it to her to wash herself and then we put it back. Then at the end of the shower we tell her how awesome it is that the soap survived the shower. We get soap that’s not destroyed and she gets a sense of accomplishment as she behaves well.
For your mission, I’ve heard of owners walking around with five dollar bills and when they see an employee living out the mission, they hand them $5. In the movie The Intern when someone does something awesome they ring a bell and everyone in the office stops and notices the awesome work.
Use your processes to make living outside of the company mission hard and then use that monthly story telling as your reward for living the mission. Don’t just stop with that company story though — tell people regularly how they’ve been awesome. Make sure you do it where others can hear. Nothing motivates employees like looking good in front of their peers.
Live it inside the company
How often is a company mission about empowering their clients? Mine is about helping my clients run an awesome business so that they can live the life they want to live.
How often in the midst of fulfilling that mission are the employees left out? If I want to help my clients live the life they want but then I make the people work all hours and never spend time with their families my purpose would be obviously just fancy words I put on my wall to make money.
Make sure that as you live out your purpose with your clients you live it with your employees as well. Make sure that they get to live out the purpose in their lives. If you don’t do this then the lie that is your company mission will be seen loud and clear with your employees and it will be obvious in the work they produce.
[Tweet “As you live out your purpose with clients, live it with your employees as well.”]
You’ll have no one to blame but yourself.
If you can take these 4 ideas on board and execute them in your business you’ll transform that fancy plaque on the wall into something that lives in your business. Your clients will see it and flock to it. Your employees will feel it and love working with you because of it.
photo credit: captainmoebius cc