Give Your Team a Mission

Craft a mission and a vision to keep your employees working toward your main business goals.

“Ellen, call me. My team wants to know why we are changing everything. Why we are moving to a new pricing plan. Why we are implementing a new way to pay. Why we are keeping score. I am afraid of an all-out rebellion. Help!“ 

I called him back. (Let’s call him Ken.) After he took a few breaths, I asked him, “Why are you doing all this?”

“Because I have had it! We are barely profitable. I am tired of the work-today, bill-tomorrow, get-paid-whenever business cycle. I’m embarrassed by how I am currently paying people, which is all over the place, based on how desperate I am to keep people working here. I’m frustrated because I gave big fat holiday bonuses at the end of last year and my employees were not very appreciative. Something has to change for me to keep this business going.” 

Ken hasn’t successfully communicated these reasons to his employees. And if he doesn’t craft a better way of expressing them, he is going to unload on his team and damage his already fragile cultural climate.   

Let’s define some business-building basics. And let’s start with why. 

The mission is your why. This is the what-gets-you-out-of-bed reason for this business to exist. For example, “So that my family is well cared for.” Or, “So that my employees can provide for their families.” It can be as simple as that. Or it can be lofty. “To demonstrate greatness and integrity in all we do.” Whatever drives you, that’s your mission. 

Your most important goal is the vision. Can you describe, in dollars, numbers and dates, what your company looks like three years from now? That statement is your vision. For example, “To have $1 million in sales, with 10 service technicians, operating with a written business plan and operations manual, delivering 20 percent profit and maintaining a 2-1 current ratio, while living our company values.”                                                                                           

Additional goals are milestones on your way to the vision. Aligned with the mission and the vision, one of the goals may be, “To have a budget that provides this year’s financial goals and a supporting selling price. The budget is due by _____.”   

Next, engage activities: projects that will help you achieve your goals. These are the “hows.” This is a basic approach to business planning. 

Reflect …

Suppose Ken took a day or two to craft his mission and his vision, and set a few goals for this year. The path from where he is now to where he wants to be — his vision, his goals — will involve changing something

Regroup …

It’s Ken’s job as the owner to develop the mission and vision. However, he would be well served at this point to let others in on the game. That means making sure there is enough why in it for his employees. 

Ken could share his mission and his vision, and a few of his goals. He may share the budget. Then he could work with the team to come up with additional goals, and a list of projects that would move them forward. 

Start and finish with why. Ken’s employees may drop their resistance if they understand what’s in it for them. While business is not a democracy, it does no good to constantly deliver decrees. Some things are negotiable. Ken can work with his employees, particularly the managers, to discover the reasons why change is necessary and beneficial. As they do, they will fix the problems they find along the way … if they feel respected and like they are part of the process. 

About the author 

Ellen Rohr is the president of Zoom Drain and Sewer LLC, and is a columnist for Huffington Post, PHC News, and a contributor to many business journals and trade magazines.
Contact her at www.ellenrohr.com.



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