Is Your Mission Statement Killing Your Bottom Line?
Have you ever been at a planning meeting or read a business book and the topic of “mission statements” comes up? Have you rolled your eyes or skipped past the page? Does it seem like a waste of time, something you come up with in a moment of inspiration or group think, only to forget when the next business decision or crisis comes along?
The truth is, your mission statement is incredibly practical. It can help you with the daily grind of business dealings as well as those major turning points that can hinder or propel your business to the next level of success.
Every decision made, no matter how big or small should align with it. Every employee should be able to repeat it. It’s the compass that your company comes back to that helps guide and direct. When consistently used, you’ll see stronger bottom line results. Yes, it’s that important.
What defines a mission statement?
A mission statement articulates why the business exists. It should communicate this to its owner, employees, customers, suppliers and general public.
Mission statement mishaps
Chances are you spend more time working within your business than working on it. That is as it should be, but sometimes it can make developing and executing a good mission statement more difficult than you would expect. Here are some common problems to avoid.
A mission statement that does not explain why your business exists. This may be because it’s too generic and can’t provide specific guidance, or worse yet it’s confusing and does not give clear direction.
Example of a poor mission statement:
“To create a shopping experience that pleases our customers; a workplace that creates opportunities and a great working environment for our associates; and a business that achieves financial success.”
This statement is so generic any business could own it. Would you have guessed a retail grocery chain? If so, you are amazingly psychic. This is Albertsons mission statement. Albertsons sells food, but you would never know it.
Example of a Good Mission Statement:
“Google’s mission is to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful.”
Clear and to the point, no mistaking what Google’s mission is. It’s statement explicitly says why it exists.
A mission statement that changes often, causing confusion and misunderstanding. Mission statements are easily confused with vision statements, positioning statements and branding statements. All of these can change frequently as a company grows. Changes in leadership can also signal changes to the mission.
Remember, the mission statement defines why the business exists. Unless the business has completely changed its course, its mission statement should remain relatively unchanged in its essence.
A mission statement that is not communicated consistently throughout the organization. Mission statements are usually developed through the strategic planning process by company leadership. It is not unusual for the mission statement to only be communicated as far as the final planning document(s). But it’s of little use if it’s not communicated and reinforced within company operations, from the top down. Every employee needs to believe it and live it within their work environment.
A lack of guidance and direction concerning the mission and what it means for daily operations. When no one is guiding and directing the mission of the company, people are left to develop their own interpretations of what it is and what it means. When everyone is on a different page, problems ensue on a regular basis, bad decisions are made, and the customer is most likely confused.
Mission statements support business growth
It just can’t be overemphasized—the mission statement is the foundation that supports successful business growth. When decisions are aligned to the mission, better decisions are made and the company can flourish.
What is your company’s mission statement and how do you use it to make decisions?
Download the worksheets on “How to Write a Mission Statement in Four Easy Steps”.