The employee mission statemeni. A tool for improving individual and organizational performance

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<ul><li><p>42 Performance Improvement JULY 2001</p><p>The Employee Mission Statement A Tool for Improving Individual and</p><p>Organizational Performance</p><p>by Irving H. Buchen and Paul Zdrodowski</p><p>Most mission statements generally are boring, interchangeable,and predictable. They all seem to say the same thing in the sameway. They all claim the same goal of becoming number one.Naturally, they celebrate the organization: its structure, purposeand goals, customer orientation, bottom-line success, and future profitability.But after all, isnt that what a mission statement is supposed to do?</p><p>Yes and no. The problem is that it all sounds cold, depersonalized, detached,and devoid of the sound and life of the business. There seems to be somethingmissing. Is there another way to go? We believe there is. What is needed is aseparate focus on employees, an organizations hidden assets, its internal cus-tomers, its intellectual capital (Senge, 1990). In fact, we further believe that anemployee mission statement should precede and inform the writing of the orga-nizational boilerplate. </p><p>Crafting an Employee Mission Statement</p><p>The crafting of an employee mission statement (EMS) is undertaken directlyby employees, not by human resources (HR) or public relations professionals.It is done individually and collectively. Each employee outlines his or her ownperformance mission statement. That then takes two additional collectiveforms. It is expanded to include and become part of the amalgam of theemployees unit or division. It also helps shape a generic mission statement forall those who hold the same kind of job across the company and its branches.The net result is that three EMS statements are produced: individual, divi-sional, and generic or job specific. In the process, individual employeesdevelop an increasingly more comprehensive and reflective understanding notonly of what they do, but also how it fits in with the goals of each unit andhow it links with all others with the same job template. In short, the journeyfrom the micro to the macro demonstrates where every employee fits into thebig picture and how individual contributions support larger goals.</p></li><li><p>To provide some common structure to the process, the EMShas to be perceived as the final outcome of three basic steps:identification of performance areas; development of amatrix of behaviors; and translation of the matrix into anemployee mission statement. In addition, all three areasshare a common overlay of present realities and futureexpectations. What currently exists has to be recorded toestablish benchmarks. But the final EMS also contains whatone aspires to. Thus, expectations of individual and collec-tive future performance become an integral part of the exer-cise. Finally, each of the three areas is driven by two keyempowering principles: alignment and accountability. </p><p>Alignment</p><p>The findings of Hamel and Prahalad (1994) and Champy(1995) establish a direct link between alignment and suc-cess. When individual employee goals are in sync with thebusiness goals of the organization, reinforcement regularlyincreases productivity and profitability. The employee per-ceives a direct relationship between the success of the com-pany and his own performance. In addition, because thatvertical alignment finds its counterpart in what takes placecollectively within his or her own unit and genericallyacross the entire company, the employee also becomesaware of being part of a team whose common contributionincludes his or her own efforts, but now with multipliedimpact. A powerful intersect of the vertical and the hori-zontal is thus established as the structural underpinning ofall individual and collective performance. </p><p>Accountability</p><p>The principle of accountability must also be involved, espe-cially with the increasing emphasis on goals that evolve andchange over time. Accountability simply means what iswithin an employees power and province to accomplish.</p><p>Employees cannot realistically beexpected to accomplish what is notwithin their control. Lest thisdegenerate into the attitude of Thatis not in my job description, thepressure of future performanceexpectations compels a proactiverole. In addition, because of the</p><p>alignment process, employees in effect are asked todo whatever it takes to reach both individual andbusiness goals. Finally, generic descriptionsinevitably ratchet up levels of performance expec-tations, but always within the capacity of bothindividual and divisional accountability. In manyfactory environments, for example, workers proac-tively have accepted preventive maintenance aspart of the accountability of their job, significantlyreducing down time and increasing productivity.</p><p>The principles of alignment and accountability can bebuilt into a matrix and are displayed in Figures 1 and 2.The first column of each figure focuses on the behaviorsunder consideration; the second on what current practiceis; and the third on future expectations. The alignmentbehaviors have been limited to five that are particularlycritical for alignment to occur: goal setting, communica-tion, cooperation, performance appraisal, and diversity.Others can be added. Similarly, only five behaviors havebeen provided in Figure 2 to illustrate accountability andstructure aspiration.</p><p>If one were to tap some of the major elements of both matri-ces and specifically stress a future orientation, what mightan EMS look like?</p><p>ABC Company aspires to create and sustain a teamculture that values diversity and is based on cooper-ative interdependence. Work environments areforums for constant discussion and communication.Work relationships are predicated on continuousperformance improvement and employee develop-ment. The key mode for affecting such growth iscoaching, which is every employees responsibility.</p><p>Results</p><p>An EMS builds morale and pride. It speaks to the commit-ment of both the company and employees to professionalgrowth and performance. Another benefit may be initiallynegative but in the long run positive. Employees who arenot happy with the growth expected of them will leave. Thesame reaction may come from prospective employees, whomight conclude the culture is too transparent and expectantfor them. Because of this, one could argue that EMS has suc-cessfully served as an effective predictor of favoredemployee profiles. </p><p>Performance Improvement Volume 40 Number 6 43</p><p>Figure 1. Alignment Matrix.</p><p>Figure 2. Accountability Matrix.</p></li><li><p>44 Performance Improvement JULY 2001</p><p>Employees are stirred when they find they are at the centerof success and growth. Their own mission statement servesas their personal and professional credo and reinforces theirsense that they are working with and for a company that ispurposeful and aspirational, and whose commitment togrowth is always organizational and personal.</p><p>EMS is a process whose time has come. Teaming, recogniz-ing intellectual capital, valuing diversity, encouraginggreater participation, developing internal career paths, andpartnering with customers all converge to give impetus andneeded expression to mission statements that are employeecentered. A commitment to these activities also mightenliven organizational mission statements and make themless boring and uninspiring. </p><p>References</p><p>Champy, J. (1995). Reengineering management. New York:Harper. </p><p>Hamel, G., &amp; Prahalad, C.K. (1994). Competing for thefuture. Cambridge: Harvard Business Press.</p><p>Senge, P. (1990). The learning organization. New York:Doubleday. </p><p>Related Readings</p><p>Argyris, C., &amp; Schon, D. (1974). Theory in practice. SanFrancisco: Jossey-Bass. </p><p>Chawla, S., &amp; Renesch, J. (l995). Learning organizations.Portland, OR: Productivity Press. </p><p>Irving H. Buchen earned his doctorate from Johns Hopkins University andhas taught at Cal State, University of Wisconsin, and Penn State. He is cur-rently on the faculty in the doctorate distance education business program ofWalden University. He has published a number of articles and is the author ofthree books. He also is an active consultant in the general field of HR, in par-ticular on performance improvement. He is a senior associate with HR.Partnersand Comwell, Consultants to Management. Irving may be reached atibuchen@msn.com or 941.561.3750.</p><p>Paul A. Zdrodowski is President of H.R. Partners, a firm that provides com-pensation and performance management consulting services. He has exten-sive training and development experience in program design and implementa-tion. Paul recently developed a performance management process to linkorganization goals and business strategies to individual performance prioritieswith objective, measurable standards.</p><p>Paul has served as Vice President, Administration, Cambrex Corporation,and as Group Vice President, Human Resources, for Olin Corporation. His priorexperience includes human resources positions with Crompton &amp; KnowlesCorporation, Philip Morris, Inc., and Dow Chemical Company. He holds a mastersof Industrial and Labor Relations from Cornell University and a BS inEconomics/Business Management from Lehigh University. Paul may be reachedat hrpartners@nac.net or 908.362.5949.</p><p>SAVE TIME! SAVE MONEY! HIRE EXACTLY WHO YOU WANT!</p><p>ISPI Online Job&amp;ResumeBanksY O U R C A R E E R C O N N E C T I O N</p><p>Post employment opportunities in the ISPI Online Job Bank and attract qualitycandidates from the Performance Improvement and Training &amp; Developmentprofession. In addition to the Job Bank, ISPI offers another easy-to-use onlinerecruiting tool...the Online Resume Bank. Both the Job and Resume Banksallow you to access a highly desirable, targeted employee base.</p><p>Visit ISPIs Online Job Bank and Start Hiring Better People Today!</p><p>International Society for Performance ImprovementDedicated to improving individual and organizational performance for more than 38 years.</p><p>301.587.8570 www.ispi.org</p><p>ATTRACT HIGHER QUALITY CANDIDATES REDUCE RECRUITING COSTS EXPEDITE THE RECRUITING PROCESS</p></li></ul>

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