In today’s society, there is increasing competition in all industries. There is a need for more advanced goal setting, as well as developing new business practices. Both large corporations and small businesses can benefit from utilizing a mission and vision statement, as well as a code of ethics. They give the business a reason for its existence and help them find and achieve their goals. Missions, visions, and codes of ethics can positively impact the success of the business. However, it is the leader’s responsibility to make sure that these are promoted in an appropriate manner.
What are Mission and Vision Statements?
A mission statement lays out an organization’s reason for existing. This statement lays out their goals and what they hope to contribute to society. It focuses on the present state of the business. It poses the question, “who are we?”. This needs to be a realistic and attainable statement of goals.
A vision statement focuses more on the future of the organization. It asks, “where are we going?”. This statement sets a direction for the company and shows what they want it to look like in the future.
What is the purpose of Mission and Vision Statements?
These statements are the backbone of most organizations. For example, Amazon’s mission and vision statement, “Our vision is to be earth’s most customer-centric company; to build a place where people can come to find and discover anything they might want to buy online.” clearly lays out what they wish to accomplish in the present. Their statement also hints at what they want for the organization in the future. Mission and vision statements help businesses achieve their goals and fulfill their purpose. Every organization is formed with a purpose of some kind. These statements lay out their purpose to the employees and the public. They also guide leadership and help with strategic planning. Mission and vision statements help organizations stay focused on their goals. As a whole, these statements communicate. They bring people together and they communicate intent to serve the community. They communicate goals and motivate people to reach them. To clarify in simple terms, these statements:
• Lay out the purpose to employees and the public
• Guide leadership
• Help the organizations stay focused on their goals
• Communicate to everyone
These “purpose” statements are an integral part of any organization, whether non-profit or for-profit.
What are the elements of Mission and Vision Statements?
Each statement needs key elements to ensure they are effective and impactful. There are different elements for each. However, they do align fairly closely. According to a blog by an innovative marketing solutions group, there are five key elements to a mission statement:
• Lays out the purpose of the organization
• Showcases their capability – answers the question “what can they do?”
• Motivates employees
• Easy to understand
• Lays out a legacy for the organization, “what are they known for?”
These five elements are necessary for an effective mission statement and essential for the success of the business. There are also five key elements to an impactful vision statement. These are:
• Needs to be forward-looking
• Be motivating and inspirational
• Reflect the culture and the core values of the organization
• Lay out a plan to bring benefits and improvements in the future
• Tell the story of an organizations reason for existence and where it is headed for the future
All of these elements, combined into both statements, are essential to the success of the organization, both in the present and in the future. The next step to success is having a code of ethics that backs up the short-term and the long-term goals of the organization.
A Business’s Code of Ethics/Code of Conduct
All public corporations are required by law to have a code of ethics. However, they are not the only ones who should have one. Every organization should. The purpose of the code is to clarify the company’s mission, values, and principles. Most importantly it defines the desired behavior from employees. Kimberlee at smallbusiness.chron.com writes that there are several key elements to a code of ethics:
• Values: Lay out the values that they wish all employees to live and work by. For example; be trustworthy, respectful, responsible, fair, caring, and good citizens. There could be many others as well.
• Compliance: There are many regulations that employees need to know to follow.
• State and Federal Laws: There are both state and federal laws and regulations that need to be followed.
• Violations: It needs to be clear what happens when these laws and regulations are broken.
This code needs to be extremely clear so there is no confusion or reason for litigation later on. There is also a connection between an organization’s code of ethics and their mission/vision statements. These three, together, provide direction for everything in the organization. Companies can use their mission and vision statements to enforce their code of ethics.
What role do a company’s leadership play in promoting the mission, vision, and code of ethics?
Leadership can develop a strategic plan to carry out the mission, to achieve the vision, while complying with the code of ethics. Organizational leadership, at all levels, need to be good examples for the rest of the employees. They can make sure employees know that they contribute to the mission and make sure the employees know their ideas and input is valued.
Increasing competition between corporations, and even smaller businesses, calls for more innovative thinking and more creative goal setting. Mission and vision statements are ways of achieving creativity and separation from competition. If you have a solid mission statement, a solid vision statement, and a solid code of ethics then you have a formula for a very successful business.