Corporate Culture

Refuelling guidelines

Do you know your company’s mission off the top of your head? No? Don’t be ashamed of it. The fault lies entirely with your mission statement. A mission statement has to be written in such a way that you don’t have to internalise it, but you definitely want to. “The impact of mission statements depends on whether they resonate with employees”, wrote the NZZ in yesterday’s edition. In the article, author Sergio Aiofi cites a study by McMaster University in Hamilton, Canada, entitled “A model of the impact of mission statements on firm performances”. The conclusion of the study: Only when employees have a sense of the mission and feel the “heat of the mission” will they be able to implement it with deep passion and determination. Passion and determination are two ingredients that cannot be bought. But every employee has them and is capable of unleashing them. In this dimension, employee missions are wisely implemented and lead companies to the elusive but highly valuable position of “high performance organisation”.

When developing mission statements, we often see how meticulously people work to make the statement as comprehensive and unassailable as possible. What is often forgotten is that many unwritten rules are already embedded in the corporate culture. Do all these rules really need to be written down again in the mission statement? As the Canadian study points out, a mission statement is only a guide if it inspires passion and determination – good employees are already capable of finding the right way to get there. Especially Generation Y, which is struggling in the labour market, wants to find its own way and looks to the mission statement for motivation and a sense of purpose. That is why, when we formulate our mission statements, we pay particular attention to getting the pulse of our employees in a productive way. Sometimes in rather unusual ways. One company, for example, wanted to show its employees that great things can be achieved through passionate customer service. So we ended the mission statement booklet with a 19th-century poem by Salomon Hermann Mosenthal:

Leidenschaft sind schäumende Pferde,
angespannt an den rollenden Wagen:
Wenn sie entmeistert sich überschlagen,
zerren sie durch Staub und Erde.
Aber lenkest du fest die Zügel,
wird ihre Kraft dir selbst zum Flügel,
und je stärker sie reissen und schlagen,
um so herrlicher rollt dein Wagen.

— Ralph Hermann / 5.8.2016