Today most organizations have written their mission statements to show the world why they exist. But still, having a company mission does not help you if you don’t have the right people to fulfill it. Organizational mission is a complex of understandings and beliefs why organization exists, but still, written somewhere is not enough to say that it will be fulfilled by the employees of the company. Global mission is a good starting point, but still, what many companies and business leaders don’t understand, that this mission must be translated to each team specifics.
I will give you a short example with the department I lead.
We are part of a company which mission statement is :
“To manufacture and deliver in a timely manner quality and reliable electronic subassemblies, devices, systems and services in the fields of Medicine, Avionic and Aerospace, Vision, Control and monitoring systems, Precision Industrial Equipment, by using the most recently available equipment, technology and knowledge.”
At this company I lead the HR department. Our mission can’t be the same as the company, because some of us are not engineers. We cannot work with the most advanced equipment, we don’t know every specific for the industries listed. But we can help the business to build experts who will represent the company in the right manner and will help the company to be accepted as a reliable partner for all those industries.
Our mission as a department looks like this: “To ensure business has right professionals on every positions which coupled with energy knowledge and skills, make the company reliable partner.”
This simple statement created by my department members in 2017 gave us the direction and is the basis for developing our strategies in every are the HR works to partner the business.
We created our mission by using the simple practice of the brainstorming tool. The we analyzed and finetuned what we had at the time and that became our mission.
Here is the path we walked to help you create your own team mission:
Explain why you need mission
People don’t feel engaged to company mission if they don’t see their place in this complex statement. A company mission must take the essence why the company exists, but why all departments exist is not something that this mission statement must explain. This is a role of the department leaders and/or managers. It is what they have to build, together with the team members of each particular team or department, to state why they exist as a team and how their existance helps the company reach the goals year by year and fulfill it’s global mission. You can do this by just inviting your department or team members to a meeting and start forming together the vision why you xist as a team and/or department.
Analyze what the team or department contributes to the broader company mission
People often start building something, just to realize that what they are building is not responding to the “big picture” Think of your mission as the element that is part of a puzzle. Your team or department element must answer the environment and the picture, the company wants to paint. Together with the team or department members you will need to analyze where you are, what are company expectations to toward your department or team and how you can contribute as one to ensure that the big puzzle, called company mission, will look full. Analyzing the company mission and the environment is crucial to be successful in creating your own mission as team or department.
Start with freely generated ideas
Take the company mission and set I as basis to start. But after that you will need to let go the team work on the internal understanding of the big mission and build it’s own mission statement. This is easily achieved when you give them the freedom to brainstorm and create their own mission, the way they understand it. You ca do that by preparing your team or department members by sharing why you need mission and on what basis will you step to create one and them create it for you.
The simple model you can use contains several steps:
1. Set rule s for the session and communicate them
Sounds easy, but is the most crucial and challenging element of the session. If you want great results you must ensure them by setting rules for you and others when starting to generate ideas. Some of the rules can be:
- Do not judge ideas, just listen and write them down
- Piggyback on others ideas
- Aim for quantity, do not search for quality
2. Warm up the people that will have to work on the mission
Do not expect people to come prepared and know what to do, and just to start generating ideas. To avoid weak results you will need to mentally warm up participants. Ypu can easily do that by starting to generate ideas, that are not connected with the theme of the meeting, but still require people to work on generating ideas for a limited period of time. At our team we did that for about 15 minutes before the main session. After we generated ideas, we wrote them on a blank chart and got through the process of generating, analyzing and choosing the best idea. That gave us the strength to believe that we now know the process and will generate the best product.
3. Brainstorm ideas for the ideal team or department
One mistake I have seen and even we, as a team started with was to start generating ideas about the team that we were. Do not make this mistake. It limits the possible positive solutions. Before starting with the actual work, remind again the team about rules you will follow and time frames you will go through In the process.
Do not forget to set direction people have to generate ideas in. Some great directions can be:
- It would be great if our department/team…
- I wish our department/team…
- Our department/team is…
- In the future(1-3 years) our department/team will be…
These directions can give you a good idea how to start. If you don’t know how to expand offer them to your department/team members to generate ideas for discussion.
4. Cluster ideas into similar themes and name the themes.
This is a step that will help you to define not only meaningful themes, but also areas where your department/team mission will start to evolve.
5. Vote for ideas and themes
Even if you invite fewer people you will have a good amount of ideas and themes. What we did with my team, when we finished generating ideas was to rank them. We did it like: every team member got on opportunity to rank 3 ideas or themes. At the end we got a short list with the most valuable ideas and themes we can discuss on and have removed the weak and insignificant ideas and themes. The remaining ideas and themes we set as a new categories. Then every team/department member was given a simple task.
The rule we followed was to write about idea or theme in less than 30 words. This introduces clarity and simplicity in the process and divides direct ideas form consequential explanations.
6. Bring all the vision statements together
At this step we wrote all ideas and themes, explained with 30 or less words, on a board and started analyzing them. We tried to find patters, repeating information and ideas.
You will need to conduct that step with your team. Doing it in silos will build your vision about department/team mission, but will generate alienation in others. Be sure to involve everyone in the discussion. Extract the most repeating and strong sentences. Write them down as a complete final sentence. Read what you wrote loud and, if needed or expected from others participating in this step, correct it. After you did that you will have your department/team mission formulated in front of your eyes.
This mission, formulated from all department/or team members is the glue that makes your department or team work meaningful . It is what came out from everyone and you can be sure that this is the mission that everyone will follow and will be connected with .
Setting a team or department mission is a crucial step to start building and sustaining high level of engagement and accountability. Every employee want to be seen as a valuable member of a team, fulfilling important mission that changes the status quo. Building it together with all members of the team or department will guarantee you close relation and full identification with the mission you want to fulfill and will grant you high level of accountability and dedication from all team or department members.
It is now up to you to help your team or department to see their mission as part of the big company picture.