If you pay attention to business trends, you may have noticed some chatter about creating a mission-driven culture. That’s shorthand for a company that is aligned with its purpose and the difference it hopes to make in the world.
Research shows millennials care about social issues more than previous generations. In fact 68 percent of millennials say creating change in the world is a personal goal they actively pursue (42 percent of baby boomers feel the same way). This easily translates to the work world: millennials want to know what an employer stands for before they inquire about salary. So if the rising workforce generation often chooses a company partly or wholly based on an aligned set of values, you can understand why having a company mission is so important in the first place.
It sounds like a nice idea, but few business leaders feel they have the means to unite their team around a shared sense of purpose. Even if it’s tempting to forego these discussions in favor of attending to the daily grind, there are serious consequences to ignoring your company’s mission. According to a Gallup poll, around 41 percent of employees know what their company stands for and how it is distinguished from its competitors. Additional Gallup research suggests fewer than 30 percent of Americans are engaged at work. Those two data points are related: When employees aren’t inspired by their company’s mission, they’re much less likely to stay engaged at work. That spells bad news for companies that don’t get on board with the growing body of research suggesting a mission-driven culture is key to a bottom line.
For example, a Deloitte survey found 80 percent of respondents from companies with a strong mission felt encouraged to innovate, while a measly 35 percent of respondents from companies without a strong mission felt the same way. That means companies without a shared sense of purpose miss out on opportunities to develop innovative products and services and stand out.
Not only that, but failing to define a clear mission may also result in more employee turnover, decreased employee and customer engagement, murkier planning, reduced work performance, and more.
In contrast, establishing a mission-driven culture in which every employee is well-versed in, and aligned with, the company’s purpose can yield major benefits. Here’s why creating a mission-driven culture really matters—and how to do it right.
How to Develop a Mission-Driven Company
Ready to reap the benefits of a mission-driven culture? Start by implementing the following four strategies.
Collaborate with the team to define shared values
Don’t just ask your executives to write a mission statement and then post it in the employee break room. Instead, involve employees at every level of the organization.
Solicit team members’ feedback about core values and vision for the company, then draft a mission statement that speaks to unifying themes. Before finalizing the mission statement, allow the entire team to read it and provide additional feedback. Be willing to revisit and update this statement as your company scales and evolves.
Get buy-in from managers
Gallup’s research suggests mission-driven leadership is essential for creating and sustaining a mission-driven culture. Thus, it’s essential to ensure managers at all levels of the company align with the company’s mission and commit to incorporating that mission into their leadership. If managers lack the skills or knowledge to do so, they should be provided with training to develop that skill set.
Hire in accordance with mission
It’s important to select new team members who are passionate about your company’s values because they’re more likely to engage in making that vision a reality over the long haul. In that spirit, make a point of incorporating questions about mission and cultural fit into your company’s recruitment processes. Once new team members are hired, emphasize mission during the onboarding process.
Practice what you preach
It’s not enough to talk about mission; your company and its leaders need to walk the walk. To that end:
- Consider the company’s mission and values during all decision-making processes.
- Regularly communicate with team members about how their respective roles contribute to the company’s mission.
- Ensure internal and external communications reflect your company’s mission and values. Everyone from team members to customers, vendors, and shareholders should be able to articulate your company’s purpose.
- Provide employees with the autonomy and resources they need to think creatively in alignment with your mission.
- Hold leaders accountable for violations of the company’s mission. Veering from the mission can create negative ripple effects throughout the team and extend to your company’s customer base.
Creating a mission-driven culture doesn’t happen overnight. It’s a long process that requires building trust among team members and consistently prioritizing mission-alignment at every level of the company. The payoff for this commitment will be greater engagement from employees and customers and a higher-functioning company overall.