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When Mission & Culture Collide


Remember mission statements? They were those beautifully crafted paragraphs that talked about how your company would impact the world, or at least a market. For company founders, the mission often reflected the best of who you are; what motivates you and your intent to solve a problem through creation of a product or service. For leadership team members, the mission of your employer might be the thing that attracted you to work for that organization.


And then one day you look up and the place you are working doesn't resemble the company you agreed to lead. From lackluster customer service, workplace apathy, an inability to make decisions and unhealthy employee interactions, all of a sudden your company is one of those you vowed "never to become." The strategies that you invested time and effort to build fell to the wayside and rolled away like tumbleweeds in a hot desert wind. What changed, and how do you get back to being the organization others want to be?


What changed was culture. Management Consultant Peter Drucker said, "Culture will eat your strategy for breakfast." The great mission, the strategic planning, the vision of the CEO, will all bow and submit to the culture that is established in your organization. Consider that for a moment as you implement plans for your post pandemic reboot. Over the past 15 months we have seen worldwide events that affect the culture of your organization, for better or worse. A few of those are:

  • A worldwide pandemic that shut down much of the United States and countries around the world;

  • A shift from working outside to inside many homes;

  • Cultural explosions sparked by the murder of George Floyd and fed by murders of people of color while in police custody;

  • A tumultuous presidential election, and the continuing aftermath of that tumult;

  • A climate of "cancel culture" that affects how companies and individuals are portrayed in media.





Your employees are experiencing all of these events from their unique perspectives and pain points. Working is just another thing they have to manage. In the past, we just let employees "figure it out" and "do their jobs." We understand now that employees who are engaged in their work and not merely "dialing it in" will demonstrate greater productivity. According to a Gallup survey on employee engagement, "People want purpose and meaning from their work. They want to be known for what they're good at." (https://www.gallup.com/workplace/285674/improve-employee-engagement-workplace.aspx#ite-285704)


While employees may not agree on some issues, building agreement around the mission of your organization and each employees role in that mission, could begin to shape a new culture. In a world that continues to undergo massive change, demonstrating how your company facilitates solutions, can bring rivals together around mission -- the reason your company exists.


But the examination starts with you, the leader. Is your organization's mission still meaningful to you? This is a great time to look at that mission in light of the world we now live in and make any "tweaks" to maintain your organization's relevance. What would happen if you worked on it with your team?


Michele Aikens is CEO & Lead Coach of Sepia Prime Communications & Coaching. We love working with teams. Connect with us at Influence@sepiaprimecommunications to find out how we can help your team.


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