In my previous post There’s No Room for an Identity Crisis in your Mission, I spoke about the value of having a mission statement that reflects your company’s identity. I had spoken with the president of a mid-sized engineering firm, discussing the importance of a mission statement the entire company could “get behind”. Knowing the company, knowing what makes this particular company “awesome”, I offered:
Hire the brightest workforce, work for the best clients, give them the smartest water, wastewater, and stormwater engineering solutions.
I love how this mission reflects the choices the company has made, guides the choices it will make, AND allows for change that will ensure that the identity of the company will remain intact throughout the years.
Let me explain.
The cornerstones of this mission are: employees, clients, and work. These are the lifeblood of any engineering consulting firm. Many other engineering firms have these same cornerstones in their mission. Some are focused on doing excellent work, keeping clients satisfied, or keeping employees happy. Others are focused on innovative work, finding new clients, or expanding its workforce.
Adding definition to these cornerstones is what defines the company, such as: brightest, best, smartest. But those words are subjective, they need to be defined. This is where the leadership team comes in.
The leadership team’s role is not to redefine the company’s mission each year; its role is to redefine the cornerstones, the pillars, of the company.
Every strategic retreat is an opportunity to redefine those subjective words, based on annual variables, such as: the economy, staffing, revenue goals, industry trends, competition, and new innovations.
One year “brightest employee” could reflect a combination of GPA, leadership roles, and the ability to generate revenue. The other year it could reflect qualifications in a new business area for the company. Of course, “brightest” would mean something different for each discipline as well. The point is, each year the leaders (in all disciplines) of the firm get to “soul-search” on what the best employee means to the firm, what the criteria of a “brightest” employee should be.
From this soul-searching, implementable marching orders can be distributed throughout the company. Everyone from the engineers to IT, human resources, accounting, administration, and marketing must understand their role for helping the company achieve its mission. Each function will play their role. Each function and discipline will have measurable tactics in the annual plan that need to be implemented in order for the mission to be achieved.
Each employee can now be held accountable to measurable goals that move the mission forward.
The same redefinition process applies to each cornerstone, or pillar: “brightest hires”, “best clients”, and “smartest solutions”.
Each year, each pillar is reviewed, discussed, and actions are defined by measurable goals. Systems are put in place to ensure the goals are measured.
This mission has now been defined for every employee, every discipline in the company. This mission is real.
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