April 15 2021 06:00 AM

Join forces to make your mission statement really serve your business.

A few months back, I was conducting a team alignment meeting for a client, where I get a team of supervisors and managers together with the president or owner. Working alongside each other, we create a structured discussion on areas that need attention and action.

It is amazing what can happen in a meeting like that. In some past team alignment meetings I have facilitated for other companies, the results were simply incredible.

In an example that bears repeating, in one team alignment meeting I conducted a number of years ago with Detroit Metropolitan Airport, one of the plumbing supervisors in the room made a suggestion. At the time, the airport had recently finished installing and operating its beautiful, electronic signage system for its parking structures and lots.

The plumbing supervisor, small in stature and dressed in his blue uniform, had been quite reserved through most of the meeting. He raised his hand and in a modest manner said, “It’s great that we have our new electronic signage system for our parking structures and parking lots. But don’t you think it would be a good idea that instead of simply telling our customers which parking lots are full, we should also inform them of the parking lots that are still open?”

The director of the airport who was seated in the back of the room promptly stood up, came to the front of the room and said, “That is an absolutely brilliant idea, and we will start using it today.”

There was a buzz of comments and acknowledgements by the plumber’s peers, and he wore a smile on his face knowing he had made a meaningful difference. On my next visit to the airport for our next team alignment meeting, I noticed one of the beautiful, electronic signs displaying the information the plumber had suggested.

Is this kind of scenario possible at your company? Do your team leaders, supervisors, foremen and managers have some great ideas that could help make your company better than it is right now? Of course they do.

Why not give them an opportunity to contribute? I often tell my clients who are presidents and owners that they don’t have to be the smartest person in the room. They don’t have to have all the answers. But rather, they need to ask better questions and then attentively listen to the answers.

A common purpose

This approach can be especially true for a company’s mission statement. The client I mentioned at the start has a good mission statement. But the main problem is that most people in the company don’t know it exists, let alone believe in it. In our consultation, we discussed some of the ways to help the entire team improve, embrace and identify with it.

According to Val Matta, vice president of development at CareerShift, “In a past survey, ‘The Greatness Gap: The State of Employee Disengagement,’ a staggering 61% of employees don’t know their company’s mission statement. What’s more, of those who are familiar with their company’s mission, 57% are not motivated by it.”

According to Gallup, just 33% of American workers are engaged by their jobs. Another 52% say they’re “just showing up,” and 17% describe themselves as “actively disengaged.” It sounds like most employers have a lot of work to do to unlock the full potential of their workforce.

Your company mission statement plays a direct role in helping your team members feel engaged and working toward a purpose.

Matta goes on to state that, “A good mission statement creates a cause with which employees can’t help but connect on an emotional level. Emotion is a powerful driver of performance. This is especially true for younger generations. According to a Deloitte survey, 60% of millennials said the company purpose contributed to their decision to work there.”

Once you have updated, improved or recreated your company’s mission statement, and it packs an emotional punch, begin to put it to work. There are a couple of ways to do this.

Have informal discussions with your team members and ask them for examples of where the company’s mission statement is being put into action. In other words, where do they see their team members or themselves serving the customer in such a way that it fulfills the mission statement directive? Ask them the question, “How does that make you feel?” As you get their responses, compliment them on their efforts. Don’t stop there. Point out to other team members and leaders how the mission statement is being demonstrated by fellow team members.

Whenever you catch a team leader, supervisor, foreman or manager fulfilling the mission statement through their words or actions, acknowledge that action. Tell them how it is making a difference in that customer’s life. Communicate with your team how it positively impacts the company they work for.

Whenever your company receives emails, thank you notes or phone calls from your customers thanking you for the great service that your team provided, do something with that information. Print off and post the letters and comments on your company’s physical or electronic bulletin boards. Share some of them at every team meeting. Congratulate and thank your team members for their hard work and talk about how it supports the company mission statement and helps your customers.

Remember the saying, “What gets rewarded gets repeated.” Your purpose is to reinforce the idea that the mission statement is a living and breathing philosophy. It is real and it feels good to live it. It is part of the reason you are all working for the company.

Consistently applying this approach will strengthen and fortify the mission statement everyone has worked so hard to create. Email me to request a free copy of my Six Steps to Running a Successful Mission Statement Discussion Meeting.

Tom Borg is a business consultant who works at the intersection of leadership, communication and culture. As a thought leader, he works with his green industry clients and their leadership teams to help them connect, communicate and work together better without all the drama. To ask him a question please call (734) 404-5909 or email him at: tom@tomborg.com or visit his website at: www.tomborgconsulting.com.