Targeting a Group of People

How to Make Your Business Mission More Engaging

Out of curiosity, last week I posted a question using the LinkedIn Answers tool, to find out what other colleagues’ ideas were for making mission statements more engaging to employees. The responses were immediate. Seems I’m not the only one who’s got ideas on this important issue!

The idea came to me after posting the article, “Business Purpose: Things to Do to Engage Your Employees,” where I made a few suggestions. I wanted to know what other people’s ideas are for making their business purpose, values, and mission more engaging? Here are a few of the many great LinkedIn responses:

How can you engage employees with your mission?

Carolyn Walsh:
First, by keeping your mission short and simple so that employees and customers both immediately understand it; second, by emphasizing to all employees (even temps, even part-timers!) that their contributions are vital to this mission.

David Reinhardt:

I’ve recently been very inspired by the writing of Simon Sinek. His core principle is that people buy WHY you do something rather than WHAT you do or HOW you do it. If you can inspire people around the why, then engaging them becomes easier. (Note, the what and how naturally need to be consistent with the why for it not to sound like trite marketing mumbo-jumbo).

A practical example – I am part of the leadership of a consulting firm. Before reading his book I might’ve introduced the firm as “a niche business analysis firm”. It describes what we do and you’ll get a sense the work we do, but it doesn’t differentiate us or inspire anybody.

After reading the book, and considerable navel gazing with colleagues, we’ve revised our understanding of ourselves to be “passionate about executing positive change.” This approach, giving context to WHY our organization exists, is far more inspirational for both our customers and our employees.

I’ve linked in the TED video, of Simon Sinek’s talk, it’s really worth checking out.

Nick Prieve:
Base your hiring practices around people who are already in tune with the real goals of the company. Start by hiring your advocates.

Bjorn Nilsen
Brenda: David makes a really good point…and explains quite well his profile “tag line” in the process.

In that same vein, I’d move away from selling or promoting mission, but give the mission purpose through vision – I think THAT is what you really want to share (vision speaks to not only “why” but also provides a goal for which all can strive and a reason to sign on to the mission).

Everyone in the company or team has to understand his/her part and how it fits into the attainment of success and how it can produce failure… like a football play, a missed block results in a loss of yardage (or worse!) where an enthusiastically delivered block may open a path to the end zone!

Lastly…. reward and praise behaviors that support your vision/goals/mission publicly – EVERYONE enjoys a well-deserved pat on the back before their peers (even if they tell you they’d be embarrassed by it)….ahh, the power of “thank you”.

Elizabeth A. McCaffrey:
Hiring employees whose personal values align closely with enterprise/brand mission. Recent research backs up this proposal. By “shaping” the already-converted, you’re hard and soft investments will deliver greater return short and long-term. Here’s a classic article:

Employees Who Identify With the Company Boost Performance,” by Donald R. Lichtenstein, James G. Maxham III, and Richard G. Netemeyer (12:18 PM Wednesday December 7, 2011) on Harvard Business Review Blog.

Maria Marsala
CEO creates a mission of 6-8 words and asks employees to create a mission for their positions within the company. Eventually missions are shared, critiqued, and approved by each department manager.

Rich Wilkinson

One of my clients in a former life has a very simple mission statement. I went something like this:

Do it right.
Have fun.
Make money.
Then in tiny letters at the bottom it said “The order is important.”

The simplicity was breathtaking, but what impressed me most of all was the way they lived it every day.  I think the previous commentor was right. You can’t engage employees in a mission with words. It has to be done with actions.


What do you think? What are your thoughts or experiences on engaging employees with your mission?