By Michael Holland
Does this mission statement sound familiar: ________ Incorporated provides its customers with quality __________ products and the expertise required for making informed buying decisions. We provide our products and services with a dedication to the highest degree of integrity and quality of customer satisfaction, developing long-term professional relationships with employees that develop pride, creating a stable working environment and company spirit.
The mission statement is for Dunder Mifflin, the fictitious paper company from the successful TV show, The Office: The Complete Series. How much does it resemble your company’s mission statement? More importantly, how much does it resemble the way you talk to your employees?
Great leaders learn the art of crafting the story in which employees can place themselves. The story has historical underpinnings, heroes, villains, a bit of drama, obstacles to overcome and a goal to be achieved that is just beyond the capabilities of the team but is within reach. Great leaders give purpose to employees and reveal the behaviors and opportunities which exist.
And the greatest of these great leaders are front line supervisors and managers in their first management role. Day by day they need to motivate and lead employees on the front lines of the company. It’s much easier to be leading the VPs through a strategic planning process than it is to walk every day with employees who so often do the same type of work every day of the year.
It’s much easier to be leading the VPs through a strategic planning process than it is to walk every day with employees who so often do the same type of work every day of the year.
To be successful at crafting the story, Patrick Lencioni (The Advantage: Why Organizational Health Trumps Everything Else In Business) provides us with the following 6 questions that need to be answered in order to help your employees – and you – believe in the obtainability of the future state to which you are leading. Perfection is not the goal in this process; you want to be directionally correct. A good answer is tremendously better than waiting for the perfect answer to be developed.
- Why do we exist?
- How do we behave?
- What do we do?
- How will we succeed?
- What is most important, right now?
- Who must do what?
My advice: Skip a meeting today and leverage that saved hour to develop your answers to these questions.
Coaching Thoughts – For You and Your Peers
- What time horizon is in your head as you read and think through question #5?
- What is the story line for your team? Where’s the journey leading? Who are the heroes and the villains?
- Reread Dunder Mifflin’s Mission Statement. What is it about that statement that sounds right but really doesn’t say anything? Does the statement resemble the way you speak to your team?