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Success on the Fly

Posted: Wednesday, Apr 17th, 2013

Chris Waugh


I visited a prospective client and his business last week and noticed a wordy mission statement (more like a paragraph) framed and hanging prominently on the wall. I had seen this type of proud display before. But is it meaningful to anyone, I wondered?

I asked the receptionist what the company’s mission was, and she hesitated for a moment while she tried to recall it. Finally, she remembered that it was up on the wall and pointed it out to me. While I read it, she returned to her work.

When I entered the manager’s office, I asked him what the company’s mission was. He actually got up, walked out of the office to the reception area and took the framed version off the wall. He brought it back into his office for me to examine.

I asked him what the purpose of the company’s work was. He had to stop and think about that one. The company mission didn’t seem relevant to him, either.

This is indicative of a problem I see in many companies: It’s hard to lead a team when nobody knows where they’re going - or why.

If your mission statement was developed at the upper levels of administration, and/or years ago, and then framed, or tucked in a bottom drawer, or buried in the policy manual, take it out and bring it up for staff discussion.

As a team, review, and maybe even reword, your mission statement. Take the time to make sure it is meaningful to everyone. Then, stand back and watch your team performance increase.

Mission statements are only useful if they get everyone focused on the same goal. Consider these things when reviewing yours:

• Bring it up for review and revitalization every year or so.

• KISS – keep it simple and short, and easy to remember.

• It’s OK to paraphrase the mission.

• A mission statement can flex with the times – keep it topical and relevant.

• Speak the mission everyday during your conversations.

• Tie staff complements, or even discipline, to the mission.

• Embody the mission statement – model it for your people.

It’s OK to frame your mission and hang it on the wall, or post it on your meeting agendas. But remember, that alone is not sufficient for its purpose.

Chris Waugh is a business consultant, author and speaker who "lends wings to your success." Visit ChrisWaugh.com or Facebook.com/chriswaughonthefly for more.

For the complete article see the 04-17-2013 issue.

Click here to purchase an electronic version of the 04-17-2013 paper.

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