Welcome to this reading!
After my first note on Vision Vs. Mission, an interesting question came to me from one of my clients. I will answer the same here.
The question was, what should the top management and their managers focus on and have their priority? Should they focus on the vision of the company and its related target achievements or the noble mission? Although both are equally important along with the organization’s value system; if a choice is to be made with regards to where an organization should start and continue its strategic journey, which one from the two should get more importance? Should ‘numbers’ be the prime focus, or a noble mission statement be the victor?
Without any doubt, my vote will go to Mission.
Ladies and gentlemen, this note is to educate you all about the reason why the foundation of an organization should be based on mission and its value system, and why vision should then follow. If you go with this approach, then you shall automatically attain your vision.
Herein, I would like to tell you a related story. In my known circle, there was a family where the father encouraged the kid to become a doctor, not because doctors earn more money, but because they save lives. The family had a mission of saving lives as their priority, and the vision of making money was secondary. Even though saving lives and making money both are important, the driving force for the family was the noble mission. The parents encouraged their kid to become a doctor since someone in the family had passed away, and the medical science was not good enough to protect him from the ailment. Therefore, the family decided to take on to the social cause of helping similar victims by producing doctors who shall work for the development of new medicines for patients suffering in similar ways.
And then I knew, another family in my neighborhood who also wanted their kid to be a doctor. The parents saw doctors getting respect and money and therefore encouraged their kid to become a doctor. Please take note that doing something solely to gain respect for oneself is also not an act of selflessness. The focus, in this case, is still on self and not on doing good for society. Now, wonder which family would generate more inner energy. If you are thinking that it is the family that maintained both, a mission of saving lives and earning money, then you are right. I always saw them full of energy in their approach to life in general.
Usually, companies forget about their mission, or they don't have a good enough mission for the employees to take pride in. Mission statements and values are just a formality for them since all organizations in their competition also have one for their walls of the MD's room!
Coming back to our story of the two families, imagine both of them trying to set a value system for their kids. The value systems here could be:
Respect peoples’ suffering,
Work as a team,
Helping your siblings,
Honestly answering the question papers.
Don't you think that the family with a stronger mission would be able to drive these values in a much better way? Because the other family with the weaker mission and stronger vision would have the only purpose to get higher marks. Yes, this is exactly what happened in this case.
After 30 years, I see the child from the first family, now grown up as a successful doctor, has more than 100 patients coming to the clinic daily. The other kid, from the second family has also become a doctor but was an average one in his approach towards his patients. I met both of them, and the first one did not only have more riches but also had a far better smile and a sense of peace on his face.
Similarly, SMEs and larger corporations go on the wrong path of solely chasing their vision and targets. If you are sitting in a cabin of a small company or a Fortune 500 company, do come out and ask the employees, if they know the mission of the organization. Most of the employees would be baffled and not be able to answer you. Whereas, when you ask them about the targets of the firm, many, if not all, would answer. Therefore, when companies go after numbers without having a strong foundation of purpose and the way of doing it, what they get is their employees who imitate the organization's way of working and chase numbers. This time the number is the figure seen in their salary slips. And they achieve these numbers by leaving you for a better salary.
When I started working, the first organization that I worked for, was ACC Limited - A company that is highly mission-oriented and value-driven. We loved working for the company so much that even after having experience with other companies over the years, ACC is still in my best memories and is always remembered with glee. So is the case with my many co-workers. Imagine how self motivated we would have been. I remember, we used to fight very tough for all that was linked with company's interest. We hardly required a motivational training workshop.
After developing Mission and Value Statement, I also strongly suggest that the top management should set a culture for the department heads the way parents set the culture in the family. Similarly, these heads and other managers must set the culture for their respective teams as well. Mission and values are the core, the root from where department cultures emerge. Very much like a tree and its branches! You must have seen a department manager staying late night working hard and having fun after completing the task. As a result most of the employees not complaining about the same. At the same time, can you recall a company, where the department heads used to go off track and even be abusive with their juniors to get numbers? Have their targets been achieved? Well, if you’re thinking about those sales-oriented companies, you’re absolutely right. Do you also know that managers in those companies below the department heads level also practiced the same culture of being abusive in their intense meetings? These kinds of managers normally say, it's the general method of communication to portray serious intentions to subordinates. If you know such organizations then you might also know the high attrition those organizations face! Am I right? If your manager’s call cannot be set on the speaker by your employee, then you must understand that the value statement of your organization is only on paper. I have seen many such organizations and also extremely high attrition which brings a visible dent in the teams’ efforts to achieve their targets. Lower empathy among teammates massively affects the organization's bottom line. Empathy comes from a will to do the right thing and a culture of helping others in the company. This is what teamwork is all about, which again is a subset of culture or value statements which then is a subset of the mission statement. So, you see how it links back. Focusing on numbers becomes superficial if you do not have these foundations. Superficial things will collapse someday or at least have inconsistencies and backlashes. Try recalling the companies for which you have worked so far. Do you see a connection between the mission statements and the sustained bottom line graph's upward movement? Ultimately a weak mission in an organization, which further leads to weaker values, will not be able to support skyscraping visions, targets, and goals.
So, what should you do? I will give you certain examples of ways to have a noble mission as a part of an overall strategy. Recently, at one of the food product manufacturing companies, we asked the company to introduce a biscuit that even people from below the poverty-line can purchase. If you are a manufacturing company, you should stick to the quality promise of your mission statement and reject the final product shipment to a client if you are yourself not satisfied. This you do irrespective of the fact if your customer will notice it or not. This may look an expensive option but belive me, as a people management company, we have seen this as a right strategy and such acts cement the relation with clients forever. Similarly, if you are a pharma company, do have 10% of the life-saving drug be sold at a 2% profit margin even if you can have a 50% margin. Do this just for 10% of your overall business strategies. I bet, your team will have so much energy that they will make you a market leader. Yes, when you set such examples, you will see people following you with their hearts. Remember my example of Gandhi in the previous notes. People followed him without the intension of getting better money deal because he had a noble cause. Can you make 10% of your overall mission which even Gandhi would have liked? When you do this, stronger teamwork will come automatically. As a manager, can you show with an example and give 2% of your incentive earnings to that old age homes which you knew but could never visit again. Encourage your teammates to do the same. They will get more energy to run after their own targets. Try it this month and write back to us about your experiences and team transformation that you would see. I bet, you would be amazed yourself!
By now, I hope that you understood the importance of the three - mission, vision, and values. Having a stronger mission and values, and thereafter developing vision, setting goals and targets for individual teams leads you to the right path into building your organization. If your organization will follow this route then it will surely touch the sky one day.
When my consulting team picks up a client, this is the exact place where we start from and then go on to develop Mission, Vision, Strategies, Goals, Job Description, To-Do List Culture, and many more. We set 80+ such systems. Yes, more than 80 systems. Be aware of the fact that I, by no means want to imply that numbers are not important. It is one of the most important things for an organization. But remember what is even more important than this most important thing! In your attempt to chase the vision and targets, you should not forget about the noble cause that has importance far beyond the monetary figures. As said, if you are on the right path, the sales figures will be easier to achieve, or for that matter, any goal. And you and your team will have a sense of satisfaction, peace in heart, and energy to run and win. Yes, you will also have a sound sleep. Increase your targets and I promise, you will see your team achieving it. This is big secret I am sharing with you. In fact, I am doing the same thing; that is, building an organization based on a noble mission. If you wish to join me on my mission to help to amplify the happiness of a hundred thousand (a lakh) employees, and also help 10,000 jobless individuals get a job which will inturn support their families while on a journey to pull twenty-five thousand companies' profit margins by 30%, then please do join my group by subscribing to www.HappyPeople2profit.com. We look forward to heartily welcome entrepreneurs, consultants, and freelancers who are ready to put their heads and hearts into the mission and be our business associates.
I really thank you for your time for reading this note. I look forward to be associated with you.
- Shalav Daftuar