Mission and Meaning

vision mission valuesA recent post in the NY Times discussed the importance of finding something you love to do for a living. I think most of us know this to be true, if you’re happy with what you’re doing, you tend to be more engaged, more productive and are generally a happier human being.

What was most interesting was the notion that people tend to be happier when they work for an organization whose mission aligns with their views and beliefs. This is particularly true for Millennials, who for the first time, now outnumber baby boomers. What the company does and stands for matters. Inside of that, they can find jobs that work for them, that speak to their skills, talents, and interests.

As business leaders, this means our culture grounded in mission, vision and values is more important than ever for attracting and retaining top talent. It cannot simply be a slogan, a poster or empty words on the walls or in the employee handbook.

This means it needs to be lived and communicated every day. If you aren’t clear whether your employees understand what, why and for whom you do, you should start there. Walk around the company and simply ask. Go to the break room and ask. If you end up with a similar theme, you’ve probably got a good foundation to work with. If you get widely divergent responses, you have some work to do.

Where to Start

Start with your executive or management team and get very clear on the mission and values. We exist to do “what?” Grounded in what values and what do those mean? Have a description of each of your values words so that everyone is crystal clear about how and what they mean. Do not leave any room for ambiguity. Once you have those, then you can talk about the vision that your mission and values serve.

Don’t rush it, take some time and really listen to your people and make sure it’s compelling and most importantly true. Then figure out how you can live it in your organization. Where does it show up? How can you encourage and support employees to live it every day?

If you as the leader are not aligned, meaning your behaviors and those of your team do not align with the mission and values, it is as obvious as the emperor with no clothes on. You can’t fake your way through it. This will cause deep dissatisfaction in your workforce and regardless of whether or not they have the perfect job for them, they will eventually leave because for them, it will feel like a bad fit.

Once alignment is present, fitting people into jobs they love inside of the company’s mission, vision and values becomes much easier. With a happy and stable workforce, you have less turnover and far more productivity. So it really does make sense to pay attention to your mission, vision, and values because your workforce certainly is.

photo credit: Meaning 2015 – Stage ready via photopin (license)