Let’s answer the second question first.
Yes. It is that important.
And ok, we get it. The employees have a job to do and they’re being paid to be there. That’s their motivation for doing what you ask them to do.
But the reality is that human beings are more complex than that.
And you don’t just want them to begrudgingly do what you ask so they can take home a paycheck. You want them to be their most productive and efficient.
You want them to understand where the company is headed, and make their decisions accordingly.
You want them to be happy and cooperative and to love what they do.
The power of intrinsic motivation
Research consistently shows that intrinsic motivators are stronger than extrinsic ones.
A sense of meaning trumps a bigger paycheck. Overcoming a challenge trumps winning a promotion. And so on.
That’s why getting everyone on board with your mission and invested in business outcomes is so crucial.
It creates a powerful intrinsic motivator.
And everybody wins. The company wins, because everyone is working harder to get it where you want it to be. And each individual staff member wins, because their work is more fulfilling.
And you know what happens from there? It’s a spiral of positivity. Fulfilment feeds hard work which feeds success which feeds fulfilment.
Pretty neat, huh?
And that’s not all…
By getting people on board with your mission and therefore increasing the meaningfulness of their work, you’ll unleash powerful potential for flow-on effects. Like:
- Better employee retention
- Fewer conflicts and turf wars between teams and departments
- Increased learning and development
- Stronger and healthier company culture
- Improved company reputation
Your mission is… to promote the business mission
So your mission, if you choose to accept it, is to get everyone excited about the business mission.
Here are some ways to do that.
Be crystal clear about your mission
How do you communicate something you’re not clear about yourself? (Answer: poorly.) So step one is to make sure you (or whoever is at the top defining the mission) is crystal clear about what that mission is.
What is your organisation’s reason for being? What change does it want to make in the world?
Getting this clearly defined isn’t just beneficial, it’s essential.
Make sure your company values align with your mission
What are your company values? These should also be clearly defined and communicated.
And most importantly? They need to align closely with your mission. So when narrowing down your core values, eliminate any that don’t fit your mission and prioritise the ones that do.
Here’s an example: The mission of outdoor clothing company Patagonia is to do what they can to save our planet. One of their values is “to build the best product”.
This is what we mean by well-aligned. By endeavouring to create products that last over products that are, say, on-trend or stylish, Patagonia are promoting sustainability and shunning wanton consumerism – which is a perfect fit for their mission.
Celebrate behaviours that further the mission
“Zappos is a customer service company that just happens to sell shoes,” says Tony Hsieh, President and CEO of Zappos. And true to their mission, Zappos actively promotes and celebrates behaviours that elevate the customer service experience.
For example, when someone delivers exceptional customer service, they ring a bell and everyone celebrates.
Zappos also has a coworker bonus, where any employee can recognise any other by gifting them $50 – on the company’s dime.
Celebrating wins and recognising instances where staff further the business mission helps them live and breathe it.
It’s not enough to tell your employees what your mission is. You need to remind them regularly and keep the mission top-of-mind.
Inform all new staff of your mission as part of the on-boarding process.
Keep it a regular item on team meetings. For example, meetings are a good time to share stories of where team members have successfully lived the mission.
Your mission should also be integrated into the decision-making process – this not only means every decision is guiding the company in the right direction, but also ensures the mission gets spotlighted as a regular part of discussions.
Last but not least, open your ears. Listen to the needs, problems, and feedback of staff and team members.
Communication is a two-way street. Being open to feedback allows you to leverage ideas and creative solutions that staff may have in the quest to advance toward the business mission.
And what’s more, giving them space to express themselves is a way to show that the company, and its management, care about their wellbeing.
They’ll be far more invested in the company if they feel the company is invested in them.