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Ditch Your Mission and Discover Your Purpose

Updated: Apr 13, 2023

You have been led to believe Company Mission and Vision Statements will align and motivate employees, while also convincing your customer base you work for them. Unfortunately, the fill in the blank exercises you run through with key leaders often result in several “statements” that tug and pull employees and customers in multiple directions- leaving them with no sense of understanding the intended message. Bring a new sense of commitment to your organization by dumping the outdated practices, drilling down to the rationale behind your company’s existence, and developing a focused Purpose.

Bring in the key leaders… Again

Discovering a focused purpose will require the inclusion of your team. Now I know many are thinking the same thing, “But we have already done this over and over!”. Surely you have, but if your Mission and/or Vision simply describes your products or services with a final homage to customer service, there is still work to be done. To those operating with a mission like this, it is not your fault. This formula promised you a boost in employee morale, customers crawling to your feet and a magic lamp with a genie who grants three wishes. Fine, maybe not that last part. Nevertheless, you were guaranteed massive ROI. What you were not told is sessions used to create powerful statements, while simple in theory, are difficult in practice. If not guided properly, the discussion will quickly derail and meander down paths that do not reach your ultimate purpose.

Guiding the discussion

Maintaining structure while simultaneously fostering a space for creativity is a balancing act the finest circus performer would struggle with. Open ended questions followed by periods of response from participants is the key to encouraging engagement and free flowing ideas that work toward a goal. Listen, then prompt deeper and more holistic thinking. Motivate your team to search beyond a product or service, beyond customers, and all the way to why the world needs your company.

Employee Buy-in

Sorry to bear bad news, but plastering a mission statement on your website and in your break rooms will not increase employee nor customer engagement. Rather it is the process of discovering your purpose in a structured way with employees that will earn you their trust. Though these sessions may feel costly in the short term, they are a critical component to gaining employee buy-in to the company's purpose. After all, they are going to be the ones who define it. Therefore, it is their contribution that guarantees their buy-in. While your guiding of their thought process ensures that contribution is beneficial.

Customer buy-in

If your employees are sold, your customers will be too. They can sense when employees believe what they are doing is bigger than themselves. Your customers haven’t the time nor inclination to read your website like a book. On the contrary, they want to spend little effort yet be left with a sense that your company is committed to creating a large impact. The right purpose stated clearly leaves your customer base with feelings of missing out, a need to act quick and that doing business with you is the obvious choice they have just discovered.

Break away from hollow mission statements that fail to motivate employees or convince customers. Hold a session or two that fosters an environment of inclusion for your team, and guide the ones who know your business best to a powerful purpose. With the right sentiment and motivated workers, customers will begin to notice you as the right choice. If done correctly, the next statement your company makes will be the last for generations to come.


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