In my first role as a manager, I worked with a high performance team with more work on our hands than time. We worked hard, we enjoyed working together, but it was a tough assignment to get everything done – and still love each other at the end of the day!
One day, I decided to try something which had never been done with this team: create a mission statement and values statement. Honestly, I thought the whole exercise might be a little cheesy and I knew a couple of people on my team that I thought would hate this experience – and show it!
My experience proved otherwise. The couple of people I thought would dislike it were the most vocal during the meeting and we produced an excellent values statement and mission statement which fit into the existing corporate mission statement and values. What an excellent win!
What Do You Value?
Our first step was to create a list of things we valued as a team. Our values were things we held above other accords and could include things like:
- We value our employees.
- We value hard work.
- We value constructive criticism.
- We value happy customers.
Your values should be the things you hold above everything else: think of them as a filter by which all of your actions as a team are judged. If you say “we value hard work” and then take long lunches or leave early, how would it look? If you say “we value our employees” and then require them to work 60 hour weeks with no overtime, how is that valuing our employees?
Your Mission and Your Purpose
Your team’s mission statement reflects the reason for your existence. Why do you exist and what do you hope to achieve?
A mission statement articulates your team’s essential natures, values, and work. It should be constrained by the corporate mission statement and any departmental mission statements above you, but should reflect the nature of your particular team. It must resonate with your employees and inspire commitment, innovation and courage among your staff.
Using your values as the filter, start by brainstorming your goals with the team. What do you hope to accomplish in the short and long term? What metrics will you be judged by?
Next, summarize how you want others to view your team. If you are in a customer facing (internal or external) role, it is important to understand what your customers want from your team. Also, keep in mind other stakeholders such as your manager, your management team, and your peers. What do they expect from your team?
A mission statement should only be a couple of sentences long. Keep it simple and easy to understand.
I’ve repeated this task with other teams at companies I have consulted with and have found employees desire this for their own teams. Employees feel like they are a part of something special when they have an opportunity to create a mission statement.