Develop a meaningful mission statement


“Meaningful work” is the new holy grail. The people who work for you want to understand that what they are doing relates to the overall purpose of the business. And that means they will give you their precious time as long as you make sure your organization is a source of personal growth, shared purpose, and inspiration.

But how? It usually starts with the business mission. You might think, of course, we have a mission. All businesses start with a mission. The problem, however, is that creating a compelling mission that’s clear to everyone and instantly resonates isn’t easy. Your organization’s mission should be accessible and inspiring to people at all levels of your organization. And it shouldn’t be too long or cumbersome. Here are some examples of inspiring mission statements:

  • soft green: To inspire healthier communities by connecting people to real food.
  • JetBlue: Inspiring humanity, in the air and on the ground.
  • Prezi: Reinventing the way people share knowledge, tell stories and inspire audiences to take action.
  • Microsoft: Empower every person and organization on the planet to accomplish more.

What is your first reaction when reading these texts? For me, it’s because each of these companies has managed to express very clearly what they stand for in one short sentence. A sentence. Not ten.

Also notice how each statement begins with a powerful verb: inspire, reinvent, empower, ignite. Words matter. Make sure you use language that touches people and connects them emotionally. Compelling mission statements don’t use jargon, jargon, marketing, or business. They use down-to-earth, relevant words that people can cling to. They choose words that are down to earth and that people can hang onto.

And don’t forget that it’s okay to have fun with what you do, if only in internal communications. I discovered Harley Davidson’s internal “mission” and researched it: Harley Davidson is selling 43-year-old accountants the chance to dress in leather, drive through small towns, and scare people. It’s fascinating for the Harley Davidson folks and entertaining for the rest of us.

Every employee wants to be part of a winning team that does good in the world. A recent study from found that, “In the United States in particular, rewarding work is especially important for happiness. More than half (58%) of full-time employees in the United States say they’ve taken a pay cut to take a job that makes them happier at work. »A pay cut to work in a happier place. Are you surprised?

The tricky part, the one that requires leadership, is figuring out how to make sure every employee in your organization knows they have a role to play in contributing to that higher ideal. There is a famous anecdote about a time when President Kennedy traveled to Houston to check on the NASA space program and encountered a guard in the hallway. The president approached him and asked him what he was doing. The warden put down his broom and said, “Sir, I’m helping send a man to the moon. Someone had clearly helped him make the connection between what he was doing and the overall NASA mission.

So your responsibility and your challenge as a leader is how to help each employee connect with the bigger idea – right down to the janitor who knows that their role matters in accomplishing the mission as well. Start by making sure your assignment is short, fun, and compelling. Then reinforce it in every big meeting and in every communication. People should be able to memorize it easily. Ask people if they know the mission of the company and if not, don’t shame them, train them. Over time, people will easily be able to recite the mission and what matters. Recognize their role in achieving the mission – again and again at all levels of leadership and management.

Make it your mission to help your team connect with something meaningful and use that connection to inspire and ignite their daily work. We all want the opportunity to put our talents to work for meaningful work. It’s up to leaders to show us that we are in the right place to do it.

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