This requires more than just a clever slogan. It is a call to be focused, driven, and dedicated to a common goal.
It’s better to be on mission than on brand. In the service industry, a strong mission statement the firm backs whole-heartedly is a more powerful motivator than the firm’s brand. While brands create awareness, actions are motivated by a common mission and these actions underscore and support the brand. Think of the firm as a book; while the brand is the book cover that draws the reader in, the mission is the story and substance that keeps the reader hooked.
Mission statements are designed to organize a group around a common goal and motivate them toward achieving it. This focus on a common goal empowers people to achieve together more than they can do as individuals, meaning the group is greater than the sum of its parts. It is powerful stuff! Does your firm’s mission statement do this?
There is no shortage of great mission statements to examine. Tesla’s mission is “to accelerate the world’s transition to sustainable energy.” The popular car company sees itself as more than a product or symbol – they are aiming to achieve a better, cleaner future for the entire world. In fact, many see Tesla as just one piece of Elon Musk’s greater mission, which he sums up nicely on SpaceX’s mission page:
“You want to wake up in the morning and think the future is going to be great – and that’s what being a spacefaring civilization is all about. It’s about believing in the future and thinking that the future will be better than the past. And I can’t think of anything more exciting than going out there and being among the stars.”
The motivational potential of this mission is through the roof – when you are working for Musk you are partaking in something much bigger than yourself. It is not hard to see why so many bright and ambitious people want to work in his companies. Now is a great time to take a look at your company and ask yourself, does your mission statement engage and motivate your people to achieve more?
For us at JQ, we gather behind the mission of “achieving excellence in the pursuit of a better community.” While broad, this leaves room for people to connect their individual skills and contributions to a common goal: improving our community. Who wouldn’t want to get behind that? We pursue that mission in many ways across our varying services, from our focus on our internal customers to our dedication to the end users of the projects we work on.
Our mission breaks down neatly into three components: excellence, pursuit, and community. Excellence in every service we provide, internally and externally; quality of work is one of our key values. Pursuit references the aspirational aspect of our mission; while we can never officially achieve it, we can forever pursue the improvement of our communities. Community is a huge term that encompasses all of JQ and all the people JQ touches, from our partners to our clients to the end users of our projects and those impacted by them – all are part of our community. Our goal, our mission, is to better ourselves and each other, understanding that achieving excellence takes passion and a relentless pursuit for progress.
Developing a purposeful mission statement requires great effort and input, but it simply does not work unless it is personal and meaningful. First, company leadership must be aligned and focused on a goal that is both tangible and inclusive. Think about how the mission statement engages everyone in the firm, empowering them to find their own expression of that common goal. If people are empowered to find ways they can add value aligned with the firm’s goals, then they will not only find work more rewarding, but they may uncover opportunities others might not see. Developing such a culture of empowerment will surely be a boon to morale and business.
It is not enough to have a great mission statement that is mentioned during firm presentations every once in a while. For the mission to be enduring and impactful, it must be discussed frequently and at every level in the firm. When a team member accomplishes something deserving of praise, acknowledging the effort publicly and connecting that accomplishment to the firm’s mission underscores the unifying power of a mission statement. It may be beneficial to elaborate on the mission statement with cultural tenets or guiding principles, which help shape what it means to embody the firm’s mission. The more the mission is expressed in relatable terms, the more it is talked about, and the more attention it is given.
Finally, to “be on mission” requires more than just a clever slogan. It is a call to be focused, driven, and dedicated to a common goal. It is the embodiment of the firm’s ability to achieve more together than we do alone. Does your firm have a solid mission statement that you can get behind and does it live the mission? If your answer is “no,” I would encourage you to spend a little more time thinking about how you can express the mission in a way that is meaningful to you, your team, and your clients.
Seth Carlton, PE, is a project manager and team lead for JQ Engineering. Connect with him on LinkedIn.