During a presentation by social media consultant Scott Stratton, President of Un-Marketing.com, he commented that while mission statements at organizations are important, the reality is that “our actions” are really more descriptive of “our mission”.
Right now at this moment, our actions, what we are doing, how we are doing it, and why we are doing it are really our mission. You, in reading this newsletter, through your actions are demonstrating your openness to new ideas, your desire to learn and your willingness to improve your heart and mind.
What Scott said sparked me to identify a few of the places that we need see “our mission in actions” in organizations. These are things we teach our clients, but I had never thought about them from the perspective of being “our mission in actions”:
Values in action: values directly support “how we go about our mission”. One reason we have companies and families identify their values is that we want to see their values clarified with action. If they have a value of integrity, what would we see them doing? If they cannot identify seeing the value in the last 30 days, could it be they have lost the value or are not paying attention? One client has a value in action that they call The Sundown Rule: every customer every day is updated on the progress of their projects. In another organization of 650 employees, they have a value of entrepreneurial spirit and consistently publish stories of that value in action around the globe.
Changing behavior: many people say they believe in their mission, but are they clearly improving their capabilities and results? Our experience has been that if they believe in the mission and action is not being taken to improve how well they deliver their mission, the organization is eroding. What behavior would be more effective in a situation? How can we teach actions that support the mission before we must act? In every interaction with clients we ask for three SMAART actions they will take to cause progress based on our interaction. We achieve close to an 80% success rate on the actions. Are they in turn causing changes in mindsets and behaviors at all levels of the organization?
Great meetings: too many meetings drone on and on. If meetings are well run, not only are they efficient, but they also drive higher level more powerful behavior after the meeting. The tactical behavior should be directed towards accomplishing the strategic mission of the organization. One of the members of our Leadership Forum applied this principle to his adult children. While he was not doing “meetings” with his two boys, he wanted to “have fun” with them when they “met” so that they would have great relationships with them. He was working to identify the “actions” that would best get him to his personal “mission”. Recently he reported that they have become sounding boards for him, further deepening their interactions when they “meet”.
Knowing your “why”: in our Leadership Forum we agreed it was important to identify “why” an organization or group is in existence. Knowing your “why” allows you to more clearly identify the best and right actions to take. By the way, “profit” is not part of a “why”. “Profit” is a result from accomplishing something much bigger. There is an organization we know that sells “give us $700 and you will get $3,500 of value from us”. That is a poor way to sell. They may have short term success and then a long term failure as they attract the wrong crowd. The reality is that they sold me on them 25 years ago with their high level of values, their great relationships, the wisdom of them as a group and the capabilities they have of making me a better man. What has happened to them along the way?
Potential conflict or problem: when we think there is going to be a problem, does your team get everyone together and communicate the potential problem? Or do they sit and wait and assume it may not happen and wait and see? Most teams that perform at a high level will communicate well by looking down the road to prevent problems, especially if it involves other departments or divisions. They identify when a hand needs to “reach across the aisle” to another group and ask what they think about a potential issue. A client recently had a victory when a field worker started asking some great questions about a project and caused a big problem to get averted and a better relationship with a customer. He is a hero, especially since it was not “in his job description”.
Relationships: most people when asked want to have better relationships. The problem is that their audience may not know it. Doing employee surveys at least annually, then taking public action based on the survey and asking for feedback is one of the best ways to take action in a way that proves your mission is to care for employees. The same issue is at hand for customers. How many of you say that you want to take care of your customer and yet you do not actively solicit, measure and take action to improve your customer relationships? We are of the strong opinion that you need to formally do this in a measured and proper way for it to be valuable to you and for it to actually change the relationship for the better.
Hiring Process: a serious breach of actions not fitting the mission was a client hiring for an administrative position. They desired to have the best employees in the industry. One of the candidates had such a great interview, they hired him. After two days in the position, they had to fire him. The personal mission of the candidate did not match up at all with the organization. They skipped the reference checks and getting to know the person in depth. The actions of this person will never match up with the mission of the organization. As we speak, they are repairing the damage that has been done. They sent the message to the rest of the organization that their mission was not that serious.
The Bottom Line
We can give you example after example; however, the prescription is different with each organization based on their leadership and cultural situation.
Just talking about mission and putting the words on paper does not do what is needed.
Working hard at showing actions has a tendency to be a lot of activity without a clear mission (i.e. we need to use a scalpel/action with all the intelligence/mission of a brain surgeon rather than a blunt axe of a novice woodsman).
We are what we do.
We need to be clear what it looks like in our heart, our head and our actions.
It is important to teach this to everyone around us or we may fail in our responsibility of fulfilling our mission.
The Action Exercise
Have your team write down the answers to the following questions and share them with each other:
The Comprehensive Independence Builder
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