By Nigel Zelcer

Companies spend an amazing amount of time creating their Mission and Vision statements. In many cases, outside consultants are hired to help craft the right phrasing to capture exactly what the company does and how it plans to achieve it. Some companies demonstrate how their Mission or Vision statements are by painting them on the walls in break-rooms or printing them on the back of business cards to ensure employees never forget what it is that the company is in business to do.

But are they missing the point?

Mission and Vision statements certainly address WHAT a company does and HOW a company intends to achieve success, but what’s missing is the WHY a company is in business at all. Moreover, the WHY is what motivates and inspires employees to put effort into the WHAT and HOW.

So how do you address the WHY? Create a Purpose statement.

I can’t tell you why you’re in business, but it should be better for reasons than simply making money or returning shareholder value. What are you adding to the world, to your employees’ lives, to the community? If your company went out of business, would anyone notice?

One way to gauge whether your company is focused on WHAT rather than WHY is by looking at your rewards system. Do you give rewards/compensation based on the number of hours worked, or on how well the employee lived the company principles? Do you reward solely on financial metrics, or on how much an employee contributed to the community at large? I’m not suggesting an either/or scenario, but rather a mix.

Additionally, writing and publishing a Purpose statement is useless unless that Purpose is lived by those within the company. If your Purpose says you want to provide opportunities for your employees to be leaders in the community, but you have no policies or accountability to do so, your Purpose statement will work against you as it won’t be credible.

At Jabian, we try to live our guiding principles on a daily basis. We believe by shifting from a focus on WHAT to a focus on WHY, we can inspire each other to do our very best. And that will always take care of the WHAT.