By Stanley Meytin, CEO of True Film Production
A company's purpose starts at the top and permeates its way down through the ranks. By the top, I don't mean the CEO or even the board of directors, but the intangible foundations of the company as a community of people. Improving your customers' lives through their use of your product is a purpose. Turning a profit by selling more products is not.
Great companies are those that stay true to their values and purpose through honesty and consistency. Customers and employees feel a sense of pride in associating with these companies, and that pride manifests itself in a positive internal and external culture.
Investing in your culture makes a significant impact on your brand. But due to the intangible nature of culture, you likely fall short of an explanation that does justice when trying to put your culture into words. Instead of verbally defining your culture, embrace mission statements that articulate your highest purpose and make people think "I get it" when they walk into your office.
An excellent example of having an honest mission statement is Tesla: "to accelerate the world's transition to sustainable energy." Tesla isn't claiming that the car industry is perfect, nor that it is flawless itself. It does, however, address that the car industry is transitioning toward sustainable transportation and recognizes its role as a helping hand.
Define your purpose.
How is your company or brand changing the world, improving lives or progressing society? How are you doing so in a unique way that's specific to your business? Why is your leadership passionate about this cause? I rarely see passion or drive mentioned in a mission statement, but without a burning desire to execute, none of the preceding questions will ever be answered.
What have you come up with so far? If you went around to all of your employees and customers, would they genuinely believe your responses? For a mission statement to accurately depict your purpose and the culture that it promotes, people must unequivocally agree that your statement describes the company's future and is rooted in reality. A pie-in-the-sky quote will only serve to deflate your people's moral as they work every day toward a goal they don't feel is attainable. Remember that small wins matter.
Hire those who uphold your purpose.
It's difficult to foster a positive culture and mission that people rally behind. It's easy for a toxic person to influence others, often subconsciously, and steer them away from the principals of positivity. Leaders must immediately address all behavior that's off mission. There will, and should, be disagreements on the merit of decisions, but effort and commitment should never come into question.
The point of a purpose-driven mission is to fire people up, to give them a reason to come into work beyond their paychecks. Find a way to make your employees' work meaningful by making things personal and goal oriented. While perks and incentives like office games and social outings are great, it is essential that people feel engaged on a day-to-day basis. According to Gallup, only 32 percent of workers report feeling engaged on an average day at work. This stat ties in closely with a mission statement -- employees who think they're building something are more likely to be engaged. Great leaders remind everyone why they're working on a project or staying late.
Invest in your people.
Most people don't like to leave things unfinished. Those who do don't belong at your company. Set expectations that align with your purpose and help build skills around these expectations. Set an example for your employees. Make sure you are arming them with the correct knowledge and tools to further your mission. It's often cheaper and more impactful to train an existing employee than it is to hire a new one.
Leave your purpose in plain sight.
On your company website, lead with your mission statement -- not just on your about page, but on the homepage. When people come to your site, they will know exactly who you are, what you do and why and how you're going to do it. It's the icing on the cake.
Sustaining a mission-driven, purpose-oriented company culture is an effort that involves every single team member. Leadership meetings are a tool we use to discuss and assess goals past, present and future. Once we're all on the same page, we discuss any toxic behavior that we've witnessed and how to address it. This constant monitoring keeps us aligned as a team and allows us to function as one unit.
Stanley Meytin is the CEO of True Film Production, as well as a visual storyteller, entrepreneur, and diehard Jets fan.