How can I align my company mission with its values?
Your organisation’s mission statement is your key strategic marketing and business development tool. It defines your product or service and your goals to your employees, customers, vendors, suppliers, and to the media. Aligned closely to your corporate values, it encapsulates your uniqueness and acts as your base line for quality, service and for defining your marketing messages.
When your mission is aligned to your values, and your planning and goals are built around these, then positive results systematically occur. When this crucial alignment is missing, chaos is the usual result.
How do disconnects in alignment set in?
It is all too easy to let disconnects creep in.
In a busy day-to-day working environment, realistically, employees are going to be most immediately motivated by the pressures generated by the current economic climate, by what’s important to them as individuals and by different direction from different managers. So, indirectly, frontline staff end up setting the tone for what gets done and, through their disparate actions, may create a whole different set of corporate priorities.
It’s easily done and most companies do it. After all, under normal working conditions, how often do your staff – or you – refer to the company mission statement? And what are your directors and managers most guided and influenced by? The company’s mission, or by their own logical conclusions drawn from experience, plus their understanding of how best to generate company profits? And what about their individual management styles? Some will value independence more than teamwork. Some will believe in ‘putting the hours in’ while others put family life first.
The list of potential for disconnects goes on and on.
If, honestly, this is happening in your company, it’s time to set the record straight.
It’s time to take the time to align your mission and your shared values to provide your board, your managers and your frontline staff with a road-map for aligned decision-making. This is a top-down process.
Clarify your mission and values. As a board, does everyone know and believe in your mission statement? What are your corporate values? (Integrity? Customer focus? Excellence? Innovation? Value?) Do you all believe in and share those values? Once considered and agreed, think about how they translate into practical behaviour to model. In other words, once you have agreed what talk to talk, how will you, corporately, walk the walk?
Create a meaningful plan. Define concrete strategies and tactics for achieving your mission and stick to them. Build this thinking into everything you do. Begin each board meeting with a review of mission and values. Address the agenda within that context. Make decisions in alignment with your big picture. Review annual goals and plans each quarter to ensure clarity is maintained. After each quarterly review, board members and their executives should conduct a review with their managers to ensure alignment translates into daily practice.
Communicate it. Share your thinking with your staff. Excite them with your shared mission and values. Regularly remind them the advantages to them. Involve your marketing agency in the creation process and ensure they reflect your mission and values in any material produced, both internal and external.
Involve the individual. In upcoming performance reviews, enhance commitment by making certain each member of your staff understands how he or she as an individual brings value to the company and how his or her actions can help move the company forward.
Monitor and adjust accordingly. Monitor results regularly and make adjustments to respond to the strategic changes demanded by a volatile marketplace. But, above all, always align these with your mission and values.
Sustain it. In uncertain economic times or other times of crisis, nothing’s easier than to let it all slip. Resist the temptation. In extremis, if your Mission is no longer viable or if your vision for the future has evolved to a no longer recognisable point, recreate your values in line with this and follow Steps 1 to 5 again and again and again.
An aligned, considered and meaningful mission and values provide a powerful decision-making filter for your business. Getting it right leads to a happier, more cohesive workforce and better customer service which, in turn, helps increase sales and profits and lower costs. In uncertain times such as these, getting it wrong is not an option.
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