One of the most important things you can do is to identify your team’s mission.
And one of the biggest wastes of time is creating a mission statement that is not used.
How to Write a Mission Statement in 5 Steps explains what a mission statement is and how to write one. But simply writing a good statement does not ensure it will be used.
How you create it is as important as what it says.
Avoid these six common traps to craft a powerful mission statement that provides guidance for strategic decisions, focuses your team’s energies, and increases their commitment, clarity and trust.
Trap #1: Seeing this as an activity to complete.
Approaching the idea of a mission statement as a task to be completed means that once you’re done, you move on to another task. And your mission statement gets filed and forgotten.
Instead, think of this as the process of surfacing important information that you need to guide your decision-making.
Trap #2: Focusing on the words instead of the meaning.
Too often people turn this into a writing project, without first getting very clear on the concepts they want to communicate. Focus on understanding first and the wording later, or you will end up with a vanilla, blah-blah-blah statement.
Trap #3: Over- or under-involvement by leaders.
Too often leaders swing toward one of these poles: they either complete the work and then announce their results (over-involvement) or they delegate the task to a committee and disengage (under-involvement).
By staying involved, you demonstrate you are invested in this work. By involving others, you get more information, a broader perspective and ensure their investment.
Trap #4: Lack of team-wide conversation.
Simply sharing the mission statement is not enough. If you want it to guide people, they need an opportunity for conversation about what it means and its implications. Without conversation, the words on paper will not mean the same thing to them that it does to you.
Trap #5: Focusing on the external message first.
Too often creating a mission statement is seen as simply a marketing message – a way to communicate to the public what the company is about. When you approach it from this perspective, you lose its most important advantage – to provide internal guidance, team alignment, and increase team commitment.
Focus first on what you are communicating internally. Later you can partner with marketing to craft the external message and possibly tweak your mission statement, as long as it doesn’t dilute the meaning.
Trap #6: Lack of ongoing feedback.
Have you articulated a mission that coalesces and guides your team? You won’t know unless you get ongoing feedback on how it is being used and how effective it is. If you discover your team’s mission is not guiding strategic decisions, find out why. Is it because the mission statement is unclear, because people don’t agree it, or because people are unintentionally making decisions that will dilute your focus? By setting up ongoing feedback processes, you can quickly realign before you get into trouble. And you ensure your mission statement will not be filed and forgotten.