For decades now, it has been fashionable for companies from all industries to craft a mission statement to summarize its purpose, shared values, and to give work more purpose. I first encountered this concept as a college student when my organizational communications professor had us read Tom Peter’s famous business book, "In Search Of Excellence." As a part-time employee at Marriott at the time, I got to see firsthand how companies were using this concept to build strong cultures. Over the years, the original concept evolved into creating values statements and more forward-looking vision statements.
In my job as a hospitality industry trainer, familiarizing myself with each client’s company culture involves, among other things, determining what if any statement of mission, values, or vision they have in place. As one might expect, managers at branded hotels automatically have a slickly-crafted mission statement, but the majority of my vacation rental management company clients are almost always able to immediately produce documentation when I ask for it.
Often, I find that a considerable amount of focused effort has gone into the creation of these mission/values/vision statements, which I will hereafter refer to as MVVS. Not surprisingly, many top leaders have gone as far as to hire consultants to help their executive teams craft an MMVS or have attended programs such as ones offered by the Disney Institute. As a result, the statements themselves are heartfelt, succinct, and pithy. Besides an MVVS consisting of a few sentences or a paragraph, many of these also include supportive principles, pillars, or “keys” that expend the concept into more directly actionable ideas.
After obtaining the MVVS in an effort to contextualize our KTN hospitality training content into the client’s existing organizational culture, during our hospitality workshops I often refer back to the in-house documentation and drop it into my presentation decks. Before showing their MVVS itself, I always first ask the participants, “Who can tell me what your MVS statement is? Who can tell me some of the pillars (or keys)?”
Even when training the most service-obsessed vacation rental companies, rare is the participant who can recite back anything specific. Usually, with some encouraging facilitation skills such as paraphrasing and cleaning-up what my volunteers manage to articulate, I can pull-out a few of the key concepts from the document. This experience has made me identify that most leaders could do a much better job at making their MVVS more relevant to the real world.
I call this effort “Missionizing Your Mission Statement” — here are some training tips:
- Simplify and distill the statement. Take a look at your existing statement through the eyes of those who are supposed to execute it. Is the wording and language easy to understand? Or did top-level leaders and consultants use words that may not be familiar to all workers? Is the statement too long and word? If your MVVS is supported by “pillars,” “keys,” or “principles,” how many are there? Is it a reasonable total number for people to remember— and more importantly—to live by?
- Adopt a “pillar of the month” theme. If your MVVS has supporting pillars, keys, or principles, pick a different one each month on a rotating basis. Or if you only have full sentences, select a component or related concept, then ask the team to be particularly cognizant of how they are able to actualize it. Make visual presentations to reinforce that theme, such as posters or memes to display that relate to the concepts. Then share those in your company’s Slack, Facebook Workplaces, HubSpot, or other inter-company social media channels.
- Read a component of the MVVS prior to the start of each staff meeting.
- Print the MVVS on business cards or pocket-sized stationary.
- Have the MVVS printed on other workplace displays, such as mousepads and coffee mugs.
- Establish a staff recognition “caught in the act” program where everyone can report incidents during which one of their colleagues demonstrated concepts from the MVVS in action.
Actions like these will ensure that your organization’s MVVS will turn those fancy words on a poster in the lunchroom into meaningful daily actions that touch the hearts and minds of all stakeholders, including staff and guests.