If an organization's mission statement is done well and revisited often it can be an essential part of the fabric of the organization. However, it's not just the organization as a whole that should have a clear statement of purpose. Whether you call it a mission statement, a vision, or a team objective, having a shared and stated goal can also transform the culture of your team.
A couple of years ago I was working for a school-based youth development organization. I had the privilege of starting and growing my small team of two from the start - I was able to set the tone and expectations right up front. However, about half way into my second year with the organization I was asked to take over a different and slightly larger team. This team had been together for less than a year and their supervisor was resigning. After a couple of weeks with the new team, it was clear we weren't always on the same page and were often working from different frameworks and with different goals in mind.
I decided to take my team on a mini retreat. We met at a local park's visitor center on a Friday morning and spent the day working on creating a team mission statement. I used some of the exercises from A Step-by-Step Guide for Creating a Mission Statement to facilitate the process. We ended the day with a team mission statement that we hung in our office the rest of the school year.
As a result of that small but simple exercise the team:
- Got to know each other's frameworks and goals
- Clarified what we all needed to work toward, together
- Bonded over a shared purpose
The best part was that the mission statement didn't come from me or the organization as a whole, it came from the team which allowed every single member to feel bought in and motivated to achieve the common goal. We revisited that mission statement at every team meeting and looked to it often in difficult times. This wasn't the end of the process, it was the beginning, but this gave us a north star to guide us.