Your company’s mission statement may be on the website, bold and prominent, but do those words translate into action, and ultimately, into results? Food for thought, isn’t it? The elements of a good mission statement may be simple, but to integrate the mission into an organization’s fundamental operating system requires that each and every employee be in sync with the mission. Some companies do succeed at it.
Much of Amazon’s success can be attributed to its ability to align its work with its mission, which reads, ‘To be Earth’s most customer-centric company, where customers can find and discover anything they might want to buy online. Among other organizations pulling off their missions efficiently, ‘Nasa’s mission is, ‘To pioneer the future in space exploration, scientific discovery and aeronautics research’, and Google’s reads, ‘To organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful.’
The mission of a company defines what the organization stands for, what is its purpose, its reason for existence and how the company serves the purpose.
Company mission and employee performance – the intrinsic connection
Research reveals that less than 50% of employees feel connected to their company mission. The reason: a large number of organizations simply assume that their employees care about their mission. Due to this assumption, they make no efforts in ensuring that their work is driven by the mission. On the contrary, 89% of HR leaders surveyed, felt that feedback and check-ins tied to the company’s mission, helped their employees find purpose and meaning in their work.
Research by Gallup reinforces the connection between companies’ mission-driven workforces and their success. Employees that view their contribution to the organization to a larger purpose are more likely to remain with the organization, be proactive, be highly productive and always work with the idea to benefit the company.
Company mission can lead to employee satisfaction
Imagine this: Your employees are not clear about your company’s mission. They work aimlessly, not knowing the end, the larger goal of the company. The result: they fail to meet expectations; they feel their work is purposeless; and ultimately, it affects their satisfaction.
Now let’s try to understand why employee satisfaction matters so much. To understand that, we must understand what satisfaction really is. Is it the same as happiness? Experts argue that happiness and satisfaction are different. While both are objective, happiness can be provided to employees with perks (free food, gym memberships, medical benefits, and travel allowance), but these “things” cannot provide satisfaction.
Bill Donoghue, a former CEO of a training company says, “Every individual needs to feel a sense of ‘I matter’.” Reminding employees why their work matters in the bigger organizational goals, can make a huge difference to their satisfaction levels, and hence, performance. Eventually, it is the employees’ performance that impacts an organization’s success.
Now that we’ve discussed the what, the how and why of employees connection to the company mission, let’s try to understand how mission helps a company and how it can be integrated into the DNA of organizations.
How does ‘mission’ help organizations?
Why is working in conjunction with the mission so important? One may wonder. “When you fail to unite brand and culture with the mission, you fail your employees and customers,” writes William Craig, founder of WebFX and contributing writer at Forbes. “Lose sight of the mission and you lose your company,” explains Kevin Laws, COO of AngelList. When employees understand their role and connect it with the larger purpose, 91% of them will work towards the goal, but when they don’t understand it, this percentage drops to 23%.
Here are a few ways in which mission impacts organizations:
- Emphasis on mission and purpose helps boost employee loyalty across generations, as employees find opportunities to do work that makes them feel satisfied and engaged.
- Mission improves strategic alignment. How? It guides organizations in establishing and balancing priorities and in setting performance goals, among other factors.
- The Mission can be measured. Organizations can assess employees’ attitudes in connection to the company’s mission and use the information to find ways to ensure that employee behaviors align with the company’s mission.
What are the ways in which organizations can truly work towards their mission?
A report by McKinsey throws light on two ways to connect organizational strategy, goals and meaningful purpose.
1. Foster goals that provide a clear picture of what the organization wants to achieve and how. Communicate these goals broadly and frequently to employees. It helps the entire organization to have a general understanding of where it is headed.
2. The organization must support its goals/mission with infrastructure that helps in achieving them. The organization can, over time, measure their achievement, and make the necessary changes.
Leadership – the key to achieving the mission
Gallup emphasizes the role of leadership in ensuring that an organization’s mission is achieved. Organizations must assess whether people in management and leadership roles have the skill, knowledge, and ability to manage and lead the teams to the company’s mission. So what are the ways in which organizations can implement mission-driven leadership?
1. Ask this question to the leadership team: What do you get paid to do? Listen for statements that reflect the organization’s mission in their answers.
2. Ask leadership teams to discuss whether they have seen the company’s mission in action.
3. Provide coaching to leaders to help them understand how to use their strengths to advance the company mission.
Whether employees or leaders, building and reinforcing the connection between core performance and mission is the responsibility of the company, its HR and its leadership, and it is the employees’ duty to contribute towards its realization.
If you’re an employee, do this right away: read aloud your company’s mission statement. Does it boost your motivation to work? Does it make you feel excited, happy and satisfied with your work? Are you getting your company’s message about its broad goal?
If you’re an employer, manager, founder, HR or hold a leadership position in your organization, do this: assess whether or not your teams understand your company’s mission and if they need your guidance and help to steer them to the mission.