Mission is the first thing a business owner should consider as they become strategic in their business. The second are the supporting pillars of that mission statement.
Pillars are what put structure and texture around your mission statement. They are what I call hat hooks: items we can have conversations about that exhibit the mission being used.
When I had my vending company our mission was to provide quality food service at reasonable prices. Some of the pillars we had that supported our mission statement were:
- The customer is the expert at what they want to eat.
- If you wouldn’t eat it yourself, don’t sell or make it.
- You are the expert at your job.
- To give tender loving care you must think like a customer.
The pillars made it easy for our management team to help everyone stay focused on what was important; providing quality food service at a reasonable price. Our pillars forced us to both recognize that our employees were experts at their jobs as well as having our employees know they must always think like a customer.
Having pillars or some would say vision statements as part of a company credo allows conversations to be focused on what’s important and not individual deficiencies. It allows you to institutionalize what you believe is important, but not have rules that are so rigid that management spends most of their time being referees.
I find the companies that have the best focus are the ones who have broad statements that people can fit customer service in. Nordstrom’s doesn’t have a lot of rules. At the same time they provide one of the best shopping experiences one could hope for. Their rules of do what’s right for the customer are what it’s all about. They respect their employees enough to believe that those employees will do the right thing. When the employee’s don’t their pillar helps management correct the behavior of their employees.
I find that having a clear mission statement and pillars helps us allow our employees to have the latitude to do the right thing. I’ve also found the vast majority of the time, they do just that, the right thing.
What about your staff? Do you know or more importantly, do they know what they can do to do the right thing?
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