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Mission, Vision And Values
A great deal has been written in business literature about how critical it is for a company to have a mission statement. Many companies jumped on board with this idea and created a mission statement. Some did it collectively with employees and stakeholders and some simply held an executive committee meeting and created a mission statement for the company. Whatever the situation, I believe that most companies were unable to sustain the excitement of having a vision of where they were going and a mission of why they are in business. In fact, I think there are very few employees who can articulate their company’s vision or mission statement. A couple of weeks ago, I received a phone call from a client asking me if I would develop a year’s worth of leadership trainings for their mid-level managers.
During our conversations, I asked what types of topics they would be interested in. I was told that their managers were really at a basic level. They had basically been promoted from direct line staff and given no transition training for the past five years! That’s when I asked the big question. Does your agency have a mission statement? The person on the other end of the phone got really quiet and then finally said, “You know, I honestly don’t know.” At this point I knew that whether or not the company had a vision and mission statement didn’t really matter if the employees don’t know what it is.
When you have a good vision and mission statement in a company, everyone knows why the company is in business and in what direction it is going. I believe one of the best books that will guide a company through the process is Full Steam Ahead! Unleash the Power of Vision in Your Work and Your and Life by Ken Blanchard Jesse Stoner. They say that “in order for organizations to be fully powered, the leaders need to know how to create a compelling vision that resonates with the hopes and dreams of those in the organization.” Mission Statement: The first element of a dynamic vision is to clearly articulate what the company’s purpose is. It describes why they are in business and usually translates into the good they are doing in the world. Coaching for Excellence is not in the business of leadership coaching and staff development. We are in the business of helping leaders develop skills to be more effective with those they supervise by placing equal value on relationships with employees and the quality of the product or service. You want your mission statement to be written from the point of view of your clientele. What benefits do they get from the product or service you provide? What’s in it for them? Once you have your mission statement, everyone in the company needs to personally figure out what they contribute to the mission. How does their job support the mission of the company? The mission should be designed so that everyone in your company becomes excited and energized at the thought of fulfilling their part.
Values: The next step is to discuss company values. Values will help determine how the mission statement will be supported. The company must clearly articulate what values are important in living out the company’s purpose. When values are written, employees should know exactly what it looks like when they are living the company values. Behavioral examples are important. When an organization has taken the time to outline their values, then they can hold people accountable for behaving in line with the values and people who are interviewing for a job can make a conscious decision to accept an offer based on whether or not their values are compatible with the company’s values. Blanchard and Stoner write, “There’s a lot of power in values. I think it’s because values tap into people’s feelings. People cherish their values and are deeply emotional about them. When they act in support of their values, they are proud of their actions.
Values serve as the driving force behind purpose. Values supply the energy and excitement that help people remain committed when the going gets tough.” Vision: A company’s vision describes its direction for the future. As Coaching for Excellence’s Empowered Leadership teaches us, there is much more energy associated with working toward what a person wants, as opposed to what he doesn’t want so a vision statement must be expressed positively. Once you have a map describing where you are going, it’s easy to know what to do next. As goals are accomplished, the next goals come into focus. Blanchard and Stoner enumerate eight elements of a compelling vision: * Helps us understand what business we’re really in * Provides guidelines that help us make daily decisions * Provides a picture of the desired future that we can actually see * Is enduring * Is about being “great”—not expressed solely in numbers * Touches the hearts and spirits of everyone * Helps each person see how he or she can contribute If your company wants to develop a strong vision statement, start today. Begin with conversations about why you are in business, but don’t end there.
Develop the mission, the values and vision and then keep the excitement alive by continuously talking about it.
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