12-1: Write Your Playbook: How to Build Core Values and a Mission Statement for Your Organization**
Athletes would never go into a game, match, meet, or competition without a plan, so why should an organization? An athlete both masters the physical technical aspects of their sport along with training their mind to ensure they have the mental agility and clarity to solve problems and keep striving towards their goals. A football team would not step foot on the field without knowing the playbook by heart. A gymnast would not walk out and improvise their floor routine. An equestrian would not fail to plan out the entire jumping course, down to the exact number of strides the horse must take between fences. These athletes all utilize strategies for success. Additionally, teams are guided by principles, beliefs, and values that strengthen their bond and help guide them towards achieving greatness.
An organization needs values, a mission, and vision to not only provide a strong foundation on which the culture is built but to also guide members of the organization in the way they make important decisions and to give their work meaning. According to Adobe Spark’s resource guide on defining mission and vision statements, “a 2016 global survey about purpose at work from LinkedIn and Imperative [found] 74% of candidates revealed that they want a job where they feel like their work matters”. These values are also important to consumers that connect with them. Those values are the foundation on which a value-based organization is built. Before discussing how these can be formed, each must first be clearly defined.
Core values define what an organization truly cares about. Organizational values are similar to personal values, just simply on a larger scale. Core values influence all individuals in the organization as they shape the culture. Thus these values determine how people will want to act and acts as a representation of what many of them value themselves. Finding employees with a good cultural fit begins during the hiring process to see if the candidate’s values align with the core values of the organization.
An organization’s mission statement, simply put, is what they do. It clearly defines the purpose of the organization as well as the ‘why’ behind those actions. The mission should also be a unifying goal for all members of the organization to model their actions against. A mission statement can be fluid and be adapted as the organization changes.
An organization’s vision statement is where they want to go. This is less practical than the mission statement and much more aspirational. Remember when people would always ask you “what do you want to be when you grow up?” when you were younger. The vision statement is essentially what the organization strives to be when it grows up. Additionally, as it is an ideal to aspire to, it should not be attainable because then the organization would be lost and searching for a new vision.
Here are three strategies to develop strong values and a mission statement for your organization.
Whether it is the brainstorming phase or being receptive to employee suggestions and critiques, maintaining an open mind is essential. Too often individuals get stuck in the rut of their thoughts, emotions, and even reputation. Discovering what the core values and subsequent mission and vision of an organization requires that individuals think beyond the comfort of their personal ‘box; to objectively analyze the organization and discover its true lifeblood. Always keep the line of communication open between decision-makers and other employees so they feel comfortable sharing their thoughts to aid in the development of the organizational beliefs and culture.
Aligning an organization with values that sound nice on paper but in reality do not describe it at all are unhelpful and can have damaging effects on the organization’s image. For instance, if an organization says it values professionalism in every sense of the word yet employees wear jeans to the office and lavishly decorate their office spaces, then clearly decision-makers need to reevaluate the alignment between their ideal and the reality. The organizational mission must likewise be representative of what individuals work to accomplish. The authenticity must extend to acting on the values every day to maintain the steady heading the mission statement provides.
Brainstorming to determine the true essence of the organization is a substantial accomplishment. Simply writing those down is not enough - you need to take action to ensure they become part of every aspect of the organization. The core values, mission, and vision are meaningless unless all individuals within the organization respect, resonate, and embody them in their daily activities. Executives and managers must embody the values of the organization because their actions will have ripple effects. These qualities of the organization are not set in stone, so it is also beneficial to regularly review them to see if they still ring true or if alterations should be made for the continued growth of the value-based organization.
Priority Bridge LLC. Is dedicated to helping organizations of all types achieve greater success by using a proprietary analytical process that increases the cultural fit of employees to an organization. Eliminate Bad Hires. For Good. Hire right the first time, every time with the right cultural fit using Priority Bridge.