What Are the Roles of Mission Statements?

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Invite employees to partcipate in the creation of a mission statement.
Invite employees to partcipate in the creation of a mission statement. (Image: Thinkstock Images/Comstock/Getty Images)

A mission statement should simply and clearly state a business’s reason for existing, and describe its value to the public. Whether it’s a for-profit business communicating to shareholders, or a non-profit organization seeking funds or members, a mission statement should be a concise and inspiring declaration of the organization's objectives.

Description

A mission statement should be short enough that employees can easily repeat it. However, even though a mission statement is ideally two or three sentences long, it won’t be effective if it’s vague or overly general. It can include specific information such as the reach of the business, the geographic location in which the business focuses its services, the markets it seeks to dominate and the demographic populations it seeks to serve.

Motivation

The statement should inspire employees. Although an average work day can include many tasks unrelated to a business’s core mission, a well-crafted mission statement can help an employee see how her efforts are supporting the business's overall objectives. Some businesses evaluate employee success by challenging them to fulfill individual goals that directly align with the mission statement of the business or organization. A company that is writing or revising a mission statement can solicit ideas for the statement from employees; among other benefits, this practice will lead to more “buy in” from the staff.

Differentiation

In a competitive marketplace, the mission statement can be an important tool for helping a business stand out. If a company’s main competitor is a dog food producer whose mission is “to produce the best most nutritious food for purebred dogs” the company may want to craft a statement that shows how its products are different or better than that competitor, such as “to produce high quality dry dog food that your mutt would like.”

Measurement

A mission statement specifies the terms under which a business can call itself successful. Phrases such as “to be the best clothing manufacturer” or “to provide the highest quality merchandise” are examples of these kinds of quantifiable statements.

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