What Does Your Company Stand For

By Gary Thomson, Andersen Alumnus and currently a Managing Director at Thomson Consulting

If I asked anyone in your company what it believed in, what the company valued, or what its mission is, would they be able to answer correctly? I was in a conversation recently about mission and culture, which highlighted just how important articulating a company's mission, vision, and values is.

Many companies put these statements on their website and expect their employees to know them by heart, but they fail to articulate them consistently, especially to new employees. When asked about their company's mission and vision, very few people can remember them, let alone articulate them.

This is a problem. These statements are the guiding principles that steer the company's direction. When the leadership fails to communicate with them, there is a lack of consistency in the company's culture, leading to employee confusion.

The alignment of mission, vision, and strategy is critical to ensuring that the company's values are not collecting dust. There are instances where companies come up with sincere and compelling mission and vision statements, but the focus in partner meetings differs from that in staff meetings. The partner meetings may focus on practice management successes, financial successes, growth, realization, and charge-hour KPIs, while staff meetings may focus on people and flexibility.

Roughly 8-10 years ago, I realized how important it is to connect the business's mission to what we say in partner meetings, staff meetings, everyday conversations, and one-on-one meetings.

For instance, when a partner tells an employee to increase their charge hours after a staff meeting on flexibility and work-life balance, it may be difficult for the employee to reconcile the two statements.

What we communicate internally must align to avoid confusion.

Leaders must consistently articulate the company's mission, vision, and values to avoid this and not shy away from making hard connections. Connecting the mission throughout the company in words and actions is a huge opportunity for storytelling. Attracting leaders to your mission requires clear communication and consistent action. By telling stories that embody your company values, leaders gain insight into past mistakes and find solutions for future success. Let's seize this opportunity to unite our mission throughout the company.

Connectivity is critical to reinforce your vision, mission, and values.

Let's look at productivity and profitability as an example. It's ok to say profitability and productivity are valued as long as you connect them throughout the firm and employees understand why they are important. Leaders must also take the time to connect what actions are needed to create a valuable outcome.

We can take this a step further.

Connecting your decisions to the support of your business is paramount.

One large Fortune 100 company articulated their strategy with a focus on profitability. In today's environment, that might sound counter intuitive. What's important is not that they focused on profitability but how they connected profitability as a foundational support for the culture and employee well-being. If the company is profitable, it can invest in the employees and ensure they're happy. If the employees are happy, they will ensure the clients are happy. They realized the only way to be profitable was to keep their people and clients happy. It's these types of hard connections leaders need to make.

Ensuring that the company's culture aligns with and supports its mission, vision, and values is essential to the company's success.

Do you need help ensuring your culture, mission, and vision align? Reach out to me to help you create harmony and avoid confusion about what your company stands for.

How can I help you own it? Feel free to reach out to me gary@thomsonconsulting.com