A well thought out mission statement will be the vision that unites your company, telling every employee the “why” behind the work that they’re doing. Your common values are the guiding principles that will get them to your mission—the “how” that shows them the behaviours and principles they should be keeping close to heart.
But your vision and values won’t appear out of thin air. They take careful consideration to materialize. You need to think about what matters most to your company and the impact that you’re seeking to have on the world, and then translate those thoughts and aspirations into a north star for your organization.
So how do you come up with the perfect mission statement and set of common values for your company?
The Key Elements of a Mission Statement
A mission statement, at its heart, is exactly what it says it is. It’s an expression of intent; it’s your organization’s way of saying exactly what it plans to do in the world. It’s an end goal.
To write a mission statement for your organization, you should consider following these guidelines:
It needs to be useful
It’s very easy to write a mission statement that is not useful. There can be a common temptation to get as grandiose and vague as possible with a mission, but that’s actually a harmful practice. If people can’t understand what a mission statement is trying to say, how are they supposed to work towards it?
Your mission should be clearly stating a real goal for your company. Focus on building your mission around an action statement that can end in an achievable, measurable result.
Facebook’s original mission statement, “make the world more open and connected”, was lofty, but lacked any specific endgame. There was action, but no result put in place. Instead, Facebook’s updated mission, “give people the power to build community and bring the world closer”, takes more of a stand and establishes a finish line for their efforts. While it is still a little vague in what their goal might look like, the target audience, action and result are all present.
It needs to be unique
Your mission statement should not make your company feel like every other company. In fact, it should have the exact opposite effect. Your mission should be what sets you apart, especially from your competition.
Be precise. What is the larger impact and value that your business is bringing into the world through its unique means? Think hard about this question and use it to fuel your mission statement. Your organization is uniquely poised to do something special in the world, regardless of what it is. Find that truth and you’ll discover the heart of your mission.
It needs to be motivating
A strong mission statement should make your employees believe that the work they’re doing is contributing to a larger goal. It needs to not just be aspirational, giving your employees a goal to rise to, but inspirational as well.
An organization’s mission statement needs to help its employees believe that there is something good or noble being produced by their work. In this sense, your mission statement should reflect the positive impact that your company is having on the world. Whether that’s making it easier for people to communicate or shop or travel or whatever the most inspiring benefit of your product might be.
How to Write a Mission Statement
After you’ve taken all of the above into account, you’ll finally be ready to put together your mission statement.
Mission statements should be customer centric. The focus of your mission is the impact that your company has, and that impact is directly reflected by how your product or service fits its target market.
Here’s an easy framework that can help you get started with drafting a mission statement:
We deliver (the desired impact of your product) for (your target audience) by (the action that happens when people use your product).
Use this framework as a jump-off point to get creative and craft a mission statement that really reflects the goals of your organization.
How to Find Your Company’s Core Values
Once you’ve carefully put together a mission statement for your company, it’s time to shift your focus to your company’s common values.
While your mission statement represents the goal that your company is working towards, your values are the ideas the guide the decision making processes of your employees’ everyday lives. These values will help your employees prioritize tasks and communicate decisions as they fulfill their roles as members of your organization.
With values, you may find yourself diving into territory that might seem a little cliche. Often values focus on topics like professionalism, quality standards and how you treat your customers—but don’t think that these aren’t strong values just because they might seem a little obvious. Your common values need to be authentic, above all else.
For example, here’s a look at Facebook's core values:
- Focus on impact
- Move fast
- Be bold
- Be open
- Build social value
Think about the behaviours that matter most to your organization and distill those down into a set of simple, easy-to-understand directives that any new employee will be able to pick up and put into action instantly.
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