The mission, more than a fancy business card?
By Vincent Nys, Protime culture ambassador
Is the mission more than a nice business card?
Many companies have their own mission. They’re often devised at a company's inception as part of the start-up plan, after which they're ignored. We’ve established a mission and so job done, isn’t it? So that what’s the point of this ‘mission statement’? Why is it so important to write it out?
That's what we’re all doing it for!
In the first instance, your organisation’s mission is the cornerstone of your existence. It has to make it immediately clear what your organisation stands for and what the added value is. It answers the questions: ‘Why does the market need our services?’ and ‘What would the market miss if we weren’t around?’. Two concise yet essential questions, which should also form the basis of your organisation’s USP (Unique Selling Proposition).
Moreover, and certain no less importantly, it also serves as an internal incentive for motivating your employees: “That's what we're all doing it for!”. Knowing what you stand for as a company isn’t enough; your employees also have to present this same message and conviction.
How can a team propagate an organisation's right mission?
Simply by having each team determine their own mission. A mission in line with that of the organisation, and not conflicting with another team's mission. That is, of course, easier said than done. Imposing the team mission from above isn't enough. To achieve the group’s maximum engagement and involvement, it is essential the team is able to formulate their mission themselves.
within Protime, we’ve taken time to have teams determine their mission through a guided group exercise. The team had to reach their core vale within the organisation based on a number of questions. The eventual aim? A concise and powerful mission of a maximum 20 words.
Tip: select an objective facilitator
Having carried out this exercise a number of times myself, I can strongly recommend selecting an objective person who’s able to guide each team one by one. That means team leaders can themselves also take part in the exercise as a team member. This lowers the hierarchical threshold and creates a greater connection between team leaders and their teams.
The aim of the exercise was not just defining the team mission, but also sharing with publicly with all employees within the company. This is important for operating as one strong company, and not in separate teams. This is why open communication forms the basis of robust internal collaboration.
Within Protime, we have therefore created 25 public Team Corners in our online collaboration platform Protime360°, in which each Protimer can see what each team's specific mission is, any time and anywhere. That means they always know what they can turn to that team for.
The mission workshop
Part 1 of the workshop mainly involved gathering questions such as: Who are the ‘clients’, what need to you provide for, what do you believe in, etc. Each team member had to answer the questions individually on a post-it. After all the post-its had been collected a group discussion started, in which a common basis emerged.
(Photo right: Workshop at Basecone)
The 2nd part saw the most difficult question of the exercise, namely retaining merely the essence and incorporating this into a powerful sentence. This powerful sentence has to contain answers to the following two key questions:
- Why is your team within our organisation?
- What is your team’s core activity? What can your colleagues talk to you about?
I asked the teams to be as specific as possible, and to steer clear of terms that were too general. The mission should be clear, that everyone could guess what team it's about. During these exercises, I learned that each team branded themselves an ‘indispensable’ within our organisation. Expression such as; ‘without us,Protime couldn’t progress’ and ‘we're the organisation’s engine’ recurred frequently. This indicates that everyone rates their own job highly, and of course that's amazing.
As a final step, it was down to the team leaders to present their own team missions to each other, meaning they could mutually align and adjust these where necessary. We ultimately received 25 strong mission statements that have become much more specific than the overarching Protime mission, although each one contributes to achieving that company mission!
By performing this exercise internally within all our teams, it has grown into a fully-fledged workshop. Vincent Nys, Culture Incubator, will be happy to guide your team to define a powerful and clear team mission.