Your Mission at Work: Do You Really Believe in What You Do?

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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, and they weren’t readying troops for battle. This facility was a manufacturing facility owned and operated by the U.S. Army, and 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.

Why a “mission” is always important

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 someone’s son or daughter, someone’s Dad or Mom. They are brothers and sisters, aunts and uncles. The employee’s “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!”

Does the mission statement resonate with you?

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 someone’s life, but important for the success of the business?  You bet, but sometimes it was hard to truly believe you were making a difference in the world.

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Read your company 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 what 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 and 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!

This was originally published on Tim Sackett’s blog, The Tim Sackett Project.

Tim Sackett, MS, SPHR is executive vice president of HRU Technical Resources, a contingent staffing firm in Lansing, MI. Tim has 20 years of HR and talent background split evenly between corporate HR gigs among the Fortune 500 and the HR vendor community ? so he gets it from both sides of the desk. A frequent contributor to the talent blog Fistful of Talent, Tim also speaks at many HR conferences and events. Contact him here.


1 Comment on “Your Mission at Work: Do You Really Believe in What You Do?

  1. Great – and important – post, Tim. Too often the mission is sloughed off as “something we should have.” Yet little is more critical than having a mission that means something  to helping employees find meaning in their work. I’ve written often about the importance of meaning in work and how it is proven to be a critical factor in employee engagement. As you so rightly point out – it doesn’t matter what the job itself actually is – there is meaning in it (otherwise, why are we paying employees). Managers must help employees see the meaning in their work. Leadership must help managers communicate that by creating a mission everyone can understand and get behind.

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