Imagine going to a job you hate. You wake up with your shoulders slumped, heart heavy, and head fuzzy. You are resentful, demotivated, and already tired. You wait for the day to be over as soon as it has begun.
You drag your body out of bed, force yourself to dress up, and think whether you should call in sick…for the tenth time in two months. You just want a reason to quit. As soon as the reason presents itself, you hand in your notice cheerfully, say goodbye to the paycheck, and throw yourself an ‘ I-just-quit-my-job’ party.
Before you come at us with charges of unrealistic storytelling, folks, let us inform you that the above is no longer a far-fetched idea. Fortune reports a surprising phenomenon that has swept across the United States like wildfire, helpfully nicknamed ‘The Great Resignation.’ As the term suggests, a massive number of people - a lot of them young, career-oriented types - are quitting their jobs, and happily!
We can’t help but conclude: there is more to work than a paycheck. Gone are the days when money could keep you tied to a single job position at one company for all of thirty and more years of your professional career. Today, the workforce is made up of enlightened individuals who want more.
This brings us to a straightforward verdict: if you want to keep your team enthusiastic for work, give them a sense of purpose. Reports reveal that Millenials, who make up a huge portion of the workforce, want to work for employers who have a mission they can commit to.
Employees today want to derive meaning from their work. This happens when their personal values intersect with their company’s vision and mission. When this happens, they feel emotionally invested and are passionate about working. When their career aligns with their values, they are also more likely to stay at a job, work hard, and achieve goals for themselves and their company.
What’s a Company Gotta Do?
The words of Simon Cohen, founder of well-known marketing firm Global Tolerance, provide a crucial direction to companies worldwide: “By creating a culture and environment which has values that are meaningful and aligned with those of staff, people are more motivated to work for you and will bend over backward for things that they believe in.”
The words are self-explanatory. Companies are not in the business of just hiring and firing people - well, not anymore anyway. They want to retain their employees, train them, and make sure their team grows strong and stays working long-term toward their business objective.
If you have a company or are an entrepreneur, you must give your team reasons to stay with you. Build your strategy of getting people on board with this fact in mind: people want to feel they are making a positive difference. They might even compromise over their paychecks if they find purpose and meaning at work.
As Cohen says, “Employees are not just doing it because it is a job, the work becomes an extension of themselves. Values don’t stop or start when you get into the office or go home, they are a part of you and what you are passionate about.”
The question to ask yourself is this: do you have a vision and mission strong enough to convince talented people to work with you?
Before you answer that question, it’s important to learn what exactly mission and vision statements are. Let’s dive into the crucial subject.
What is a Vision and Mission Statement?
It’s common for people to use the two terms interchangeably but let’s clear that confusion right away: ‘ vision statement’ and ‘vision statement’ are quite distinct. Both serve different purposes and are also written very differently.
Vision is your true north. It is the dream you want to achieve with your entrepreneurial or business venture. The purpose of the vision statement is to inspire and create a shared sense of determination throughout your team.
The mission covers the objectives of your organization. Keep in mind that the mission is measurable, ideally inspirational, and, most importantly, achievable. A perfect mission statement is brief and easy to remember. It minimizes the use of the word “and” (it’s also not a grocery list!) and shouldn’t require follow-ups or clarification questions. It should also be uniquely identifiable to the company.
The simplest way to differentiate between the two is that vision is the long-term or ultimate goal of the organization. However, the mission statement outlines what the company must do consistently to turn its vision into reality. In other words, the mission statement is the breakup of the ultimate goal into smaller parts; it gives you a roadmap of how to go about achieving your objective.
An effective mission and vision statement can help you harness talent, encourage dedication, promote communication and collaboration, maximize resource allocation, and positively impact the productivity and performance of the organization. With a well-crafted mission and vision statement, a company’s strategy will never fall short of success.
Of course, we don’t recommend that you devise appealing statements without implementing a workable strategy to achieve the said vision and mission. You should always have a plan of action for achieving your goals.
Bain and Company conducted telling research that concluded that organizations that align their strategic plans with their vision and mission statements demonstrate better performance than those who do not follow the mission and vision statements they crafted for themselves. It is crucial to give your team clear direction and a strong sense of purpose, so they are motivated every day to make great things happen.
As we pointed out before, unlike olden times, people in the modern world want to be driven enough before they can envision a future with their current company. As reports confirm, organizations that fail to provide a roadmap or meaning fail to retain their employees. They also happen to have a high employee turnover ratio, which can be associated with a lack of direction and poor engagement.
Besides defining the purpose, these statements also serve as a foundation that brings the entire team on one page. Having a structured mission and vision statement helps you accelerate the decision-making process of the organization.
You can also quickly identify if a particular project is at odds with your values or detracts you and your team from your ultimate destination. All you have to do is pull up your well-thought-out and clearly stated vision and mission statement and confirm that you’re still consistently going down the right path!
Do you see how critical it is to communicate your organization’s raison d’etre to your team and yourself? What other way to do it effectively than to have a comprehensive and clear vision and mission statement?
How to Write Your Vision and Mission Statement
Now that we are clear on the purpose of what each statement serves, let’s move on to the process of formulating one. We’d be the first to admit that this is some heavy, important work. So proceed with caution and don’t take it lightly!
Your vision and mission statement has a way of sticking with you. And that’s not a bad thing. Once people in the industry and your target audience become aware of your vision and mission, you want them to remember it.
You want them to associate the words with you, and better yet, consider it a promise you mean to deliver on. This boosts your reputation as someone who knows what they want and won’t stop until they get it. So, one indicator to know you’ve got great statements is when people remember them.
On the flip side, this also means you should be thoughtful and clear-headed when writing your vision and mission. You don’t want to announce both to the world only to retract it a few years down the line. That would just leave a bad impression. To clarify, companies revisit their vision and mission statements, but that’s mostly when they have achieved the previously set goals. In this case, they add to the existing statement and refrain from changing it altogether (unless their focus takes a 360-degree turn).
For this reason, we’re going to explore one by one how you can write your vision and mission statements in the most comprehensive and well-considered manner.
Writing a Vision Statement
Vision statements are not born in a vacuum. Rather, they take birth inside your head. So, the very first step of devising your vision statement is to have a vision.
Since the vision statement is primarily future-based, you must ask yourself some pertinent questions before you get started. Is your purpose clear to you? Are you certain about what you want to achieve? Do you dare to dream big?
A lot of people and companies follow the mainstream or the current fad. They don’t have a long-term vision of what they want to achieve through their business. Consequently, their vision is flimsy and poorly written. They don’t have a defined image in their own heads, so what hope do they have to convey it to the world successfully? None!
So, before you try and come up with the right words, find some clarity within yourself. Think hard and ascertain what you want to achieve. Clarify your goals and aims for yourself. Make sure they are life-changing and transformative. Dream big!
Next, you can take some practical steps to get started on writing your vision statement. You don’t have to turn it into a solo project. You are allowed to involve a wider group in the process of coming up with the right words. You can seek help from co-founders, your leadership team, or even your employees.
Here are some questions that your vision statement should answer:
What Are Your Core Values?
As we discussed before, your employees need something to believe in. They need to feel engaged with their work and find meaning in it. This happens when they know the company’s core values and are sure that it aligns with what they have in mind.
Howard Stevenson, Harvard professor, described by Forbes as the “lion of entrepreneurship,” says, “Maintaining an effective culture is so important that it, in fact, trumps even strategy.” In truth, your core values lie at the foundation of your work culture and vision statement. They determine how well you will perform today and in the future. You can take them as the guiding light that tells you who to hire, what to work toward, and what decisions to take.
Since they are a fundamental aspect of your company, be clear about your core values before you devise your vision statement. Make sure they are values you can commit to in the long term. Stay consistent and transparent about it. Some of the most common core values companies have are:
- Community – This means your company will not be solely driven by profit. Rather, you believe in giving back, working for the greater good, and improving your community. Corporate social responsibility is part of this value.
- Balance – This entails creating a culture that promotes a healthy work-life balance in the lives of employees.
- Accountability – This means that you believe in taking responsibility for your promises, actions, and policies.
What Will Be Your Target Market in the Next 15 Years?
Some companies start out small but intend to expand globally. Some begin with the purpose of catering to a niche audience. Some believe in becoming pillars of their close community.
While crafting your vision, assess your future plans. Where do you see yourself in the next decade? Do you want to take over the global market? Or would you rather stay local and offer all the benefits that a local business provides to its familiar customer base? Define your target market clearly in the vision statement to ensure that your company goals align with the people you want to reach and the magnitude of impact you wish to create.
What Problems Would You Solve?
This question is linked to the previous one. What gap do you see in the market? What problem do you intend to solve? For this, identify what your product or service addresses.
For instance, your digital marketing business might be geared toward small business owners who cannot afford to spend on expensive traditional marketing methods for wider reach, as huge corporations can do easily. In this case, you will have to tailor your vision to focus on the evolving needs of small businesses.
Consider how your plan would change in the next decade or more. Make sure your objectives remain relevant to the target market in the future. You need to be sure that what you speculate does not go outdated by the time you reach there!
What Is Your Business About?
A perfect vision statement is not anti-something or negative. Your vision statement should not reflect your rivalry and competition. Instead, focus only on what you are all about. Is your business about green earth? Then talk about it instead of discussing companies that aren’t environmentally friendly. This is not the time to point your fingers at others. Instead, it is time you make your name and purpose take center stage and shine as they should!
Once you have compiled the answers to all the questions we described above, we recommend that you distill the details into a concise paragraph. Place the answers in terms of their theme and pare it down to what’s essential to you. Next, work on refining the short paragraph into one impactful sentence.
Writing a Mission Statement
Unlike your vision statement, which is future-oriented, your mission statement is present-based. In other words, it talks about the actionable steps you will take consistently in the upcoming years to achieve your vision.
To craft a mission statement, pick the crucial elements from your vision statement that resonate the loudest with where you stand today. Now is the time to ask some basic present-focused questions:
Who Does Your Company Serve?
This pertains to your target demographic. Know the ins and outs of the section of society you want to help through your service or product. For instance, an NGO geared toward eradicating preventable diseases may not be for people in the developed nations who already have governmental resources at their disposal.
What Work Do You Perform?
The answer to this question should describe in detail what actions you are taking to implement your mission. For instance, if you are into human development, particularly the health sector, mention the services you offer.
Why Are You Doing the Work You Do?
This is all about pinning down your purpose. Describe your ‘why.’ Why do you care about the work you have taken up? For instance, an NGO that works for female reproductive health in a developing nation would cite women empowerment across the globe as its purpose.
How Are You Doing the Work?
List down the visible steps you are taking to implement your mission. For instance, if you are working in the health sector of developing countries, you might have these as your short- and long-term plan: counseling sessions on health, building model ERs, devising doctor training programs, and creating a telehealth channel.
Where Are You Doing the Work?
Specify the locations you are going to operate in. Some companies look to create a worldwide impact. However, some want to focus on a certain region - be it their community or another. For instance, your NGO might want to work solely for developing nations in the Southeast Asian region. Defining your scope gives a clear idea to you as well as your audience.
Make sure your mission statement is easily understandable. Avoid using jargon or complex words that would force people to refer to a dictionary to make sense of it (they won’t). Short and sweet is the way to go. Take into account how your mission statement will impact the team and the company’s future. Think of what it would look like on your website. The mission statement of the company helps sort the architecture of your organizational strategy. It not only gives you an implementable long-term plan but also empowers you to make informed day-to-day decisions.
The mission statement is like a living, breathing document for the organization. You must discuss it with your senior managers, new employees, and even your customers. We suggest this because initiating conversations around your mission statement will give you an outsider’s perspective. Be open to constructive criticism. Consider the feedback as important and reassess your mission statement to make any necessary improvements. Don’t just settle for lukewarm responses, as people would not be too polite to give you the real picture. Press them to get legit responses about improvements and changes.
Examples of Vision and Mission Statements of Some Top Companies
Vision Statement: “To provide access to the world’s information in one click.”
Mission Statement: “To organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful.”
2 - Microsoft
Vision Statement: “To help people and businesses throughout the world realize their full potential.”
Mission Statement: “To empower every person and every organization on the planet to achieve more.”
3 - IBM
Vision Statement: “To be the world’s most successful and important information technology company. Successful in helping out customers apply technology to solve their problems. Successful in introducing this extraordinary technology to new customers. Important, because we will continue to be the basic resource of much of what is invested in this industry.”
Mission Statement: “To lead in the creation, development, and manufacture of the industry’s most advanced information technologies, including computer systems, software, networking systems, storage devices, and microelectronics. And our worldwide network of IBM solutions and services professionals translates these advanced technologies into business value for our customers. We translate these advanced technologies into value for our customers through our professional solutions, services, and consulting businesses worldwide.”
4 - Apple
Vision Statement: “We believe that we are on the face of the earth to make great products and that’s not changing. We are constantly focusing on innovating. We believe in the simple, not the complex. We believe that we need to own and control the primary technologies behind the products that we make and participate only in markets where we can make a significant contribution. We believe in saying no to thousands of projects so that we can really focus on the few that are truly important and meaningful to us. We believe in deep collaboration and cross-pollination of our groups, which allow us to innovate in a way that others cannot. And frankly, we don’t settle for anything less than excellence in every group in the company, and we have the self-honesty to admit when we’re wrong and the courage to change. And I think regardless of who is in what job those values are so embedded in this company that Apple will do extremely well.”
Mission Statement: “Apple designs Macs, the best personal computers in the world, along with OS X, iLife, iWork, and professional software. Apple leads the digital music revolution with its iPods and iTunes online store. Apple has reinvented the mobile phone with its revolutionary iPhone and App Store, and is defining the future of mobile media and computing devices with iPad.”
5 - Tesla
Vision Statement: “To create the most compelling car company of the 21st century by driving the world’s transition to electric vehicles.”
Mission Statement: “To accelerate the world’s transition to sustainable energy.”
6 - Nike
Vision Statement: “To bring inspiration and innovation to every athlete in the world.”
Mission Statement: “To do everything possible to expand human potential. We do that by creating groundbreaking sport innovations, by making our products more sustainable, by building a creative and diverse global team, and by making a positive impact in communities where we live and work.”
We hope you understand how crucial it is to have a clear and defined vision and mission statements and are well on your way to crafting your statements!
To reiterate, your vision statement encapsulates your future aspirations. On the other hand, your mission statement is focused on your present actions; it details what, how, and where you work as well as why you do what you do and for whom.
Make sure that both your vision and mission statements reflect in the actions your company takes. Your goals and actions should align with your vision and mission; this is what will help you achieve your objectives as time passes.
It is safe to say that the survival of any business or organization is not possible without a clear mission and vision statement. If crafted correctly, your vision and mission statement can significantly help you reduce conflict at work and promote productivity, loyalty, and collaboration among your team. Combined, all will benefit your business.
So what are you waiting for? You have what it takes to develop killer vision and mission statements. Get started!
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