One of our clients at HRU is the U.S. Army and I recently had an opportunity to go onto one of the bases and listen to the commanding officer speak about their “mission”. The facility I was at wasn’t one who was training soldiers to go off and fight, they weren’t readying troops for battle, this facility was a manufacturing facility – owned and ran by the U.S. Army making various things that are used by our men and women who are out in combat. But make no mistake – each individual working at this base had a “mission”.
I’ve worked at a number of companies in my career and we always had vision and mission statements, but to be honest it was very difficult to live those visions and/or missions. Don’t get me wrong – I’m a company guy – I’ll get the company logo tattoo on my butt, the whole thing – but most mission/vision statements are just lame and/or boring. Almost all of these statements have certain words in common: Quality – Stakeholders – Integrity – Excellence – Service – Innovation – Team Work – Responsibility. Really!? Do you think someone has a company out there where they started thinking – “You know what the country needs? A company that has crappy quality, lies to their customers, treats each other like garbage and is satisfied with average last generation products”?!
That is what blew me away with the “mission” of our partners at the U.S. Army. Every individual who came into that facility from the guy who was sweeping up the floors to the person writing the checks for material knew where their products were going, and what it meant if one of their products “failed”. Their mission was to protect the lives of a soldier they had never met, who was fighting in a place they will probably never see. That soldier is someones son or daughter, someones Dad or Mom – they are brothers and sisters, aunts and uncles. The employees “mission” every single day they come to work is to ensure the products they manufacture – save the life of someone who is charged with protecting our freedom. Now that’s a “mission”!
I was in HR at Applebee’s and I loved it! Loved IT! Great HR team, high energy, very fun place to work. Our “Mission” was to ensure customers got “hot-fries-hot” and didn’t have to ask for refills. Not quite the same mission as saving someones life. Important for the success of the business – you bet. But sometimes hard to truly believe you were making a difference in the world.
Read your mission/vision statement at your office – today. Does it resonate with you? You have to believe in the mission you are charged with, in what you do, or eventually you won’t like you do anymore. Having a “mission” is important. It might not be protecting or saving lives, and that’s fine – that’s not for everyone. I run a staffing company – my “mission”? My 8 year old asks me this from time to time? “Dad, what do you do?” I find people jobs. Which during a recession is pretty important, makes you feel very good when you find someone a job! When times are good – I find people “better” jobs, or I help companies find “better” talent. Either way that’s my mission – and I like it!