While helping a client prepare for their National Accreditation visit, I inquired about their mission. They were excited to show me a printed version of what they called their mission. I stopped my client and said. "You are the CEO and director. Please TELL ME your mission. She looked at me like I was speaking a foreign language. She responded, "I don't know it from memory because it was adapted from another agency."
I tried to hide the look of repulse and judgment from my face because I knew that this a common practice with human service and non-profit organizations. Nevertheless, it is a practice that is counterproductive to accountability, value and service.
I refocused my attention because I knew that this was about to be a teachable moment. As my client waited with baited breathe I finally spoke. I told her an organization’s mission is genuine and unique to that organization.
Although your mission may contain some of the same buzz words of another organization it should relate totally and uniquely to you. It should not be a compilation of buzz words that sound good but do not reflect the reality of the organization.
An organization’s mission should be an experience just like fine dining. It is the leader’s responsibility to establish and ensure that the mission is effectively designed (woven) and communicated throughout an organization from top to bottom.
The mission should signify the core values and the “how" of service provision. They are not words confined to a binder and reviewed annually; rather they are the heartbeat of the organization in which services are designed and delivered. The organizational "holy grail”! A guide, a light, a source, which directly reflects the soul of an organization. Mission statements are not only limited to organizations but can also be applied to individuals. When clients, board members, new staff, visitors walk into the door they should see, feel and experience your mission.
In order for this to occur, leadership, management and staff should know, understand and implement (live) the mission because it drives the services and decisions that are made on a daily basis while serving as a litmus test of accountability, value, and service.
When developing your organizations mission you must address the following questions:
1. Know your why? Why do we do what we do?
2. Know your how? How do we do what we do to the best of our ability?
3. Is our mission too broad and not easily understood?
4. Does our mission reflect our organizations values?
5. Do our staff know the mission, it's meaning and exemplify it in service delivery?
6. Can our clients feel our mission when they walk in the door?
7. Does our organization live up to our mission?
Dr. Taunya A. Lowe is the CEO of The Resurgent Group of Metro Atlanta, LLC and The Impact Experience; a human services and leadership development consulting firm located outside Atlanta, GA. Dr. Lowe is a speaker, trainer, coach, professor and entrepreneur. She is a skilled change agent with a focus on developing people and organizations. She enjoys combining her photography and writing to motivate, inspire and lead people toward growth and change. To learn more, visit our website www.theresurgentgroup.com