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Your Mission Statement Stinks

Quick! What’s your organization’s mission statement? Don’t have the mission memorized? Do your eyes glaze over at the mere mention of it? Then perhaps your organization isn’t on a worthwhile mission

Quick! What’s your organization’s mission statement?

Don’t have the mission memorized? Do your eyes glaze over at the mere mention of it? Then perhaps your organization isn’t on a worthwhile mission.

No doubt you’ve seen something like: “Our mission is to maximize shareholder profits, in relationship with both internal and external stakeholders, as we explore new paradigms to improve the world.”

Blah, blah, blah.

When it comes to recruiting the next generation of talent, one of the worst mistakes an organization can make is to be vague. And let’s face it – most mission statements are vague. Not to mention long-winded, outdated, and rarely memorable. So isn’t it high time to rethink the mission statement?

Interesting enough, the world’s longest paragraph is a carry-over from the 1980s workplace, which thrived on formalities. We’ve long since retired dot matrix printers and pantyhose, but the mundane mission statement still lives on.

I think that’s about to change.

Generation Y (1982-1995), the youngest and largest generation in history seeks an authentic, trustworthy, and credible employer. They cherish brands that are successful at humanization and innovation. And at 80 million people, their quest to work for a company with a meaningful mission is one that employers need to heed.

As this huge generation begins to flood the workforce, an immersion of work life and personal life will come together. This shift is neither good nor bad, but it’s definitely a different approach to work.

Generation Y is driven by the opportunity to make a social impact — not a big paycheck or working for a prestigious corporation. Make no mistake about it; mission really matters to this generation.

Gone are the days of formal and forgetful mission statements. Here are three things to keep in mind when crafting a mission:

  1. Be relevant. A mission statement that appeals to Generation Y will express values and purpose, inspire collaboration, build trust, and benefit the greater good.
  2. Get to the point. When you’re sharing your organization’s mission with a 20-something who has a 7-second attention span, it’s best to be brief.
  3. Have a point. A mission statement is a blueprint for the present and near future. It should communicate the job that you and your team have come to do. FedEx’s early mission statement was a succinct call to action: Get it there. ‘Nuff said.

Here are some additional examples of Gen Y-friendly mission statements:

  • Starbucks: Inspire and nurture the human spirit – one person, one cup and one neighborhood at a time.
  • GlaxoSmithKline: Improve the quality of human life by enabling people to do more, feel better, and live longer.
  • Facebook: Give people the power to share and make the world more open and connected.
  • Whole Foods: Sell the highest quality natural and organic products available.

Your organization’s mission statement has always been important, but it’s about to become more important than ever before. For the love of Gen Y, make it meaningful, motivational, and memorable. Make it your mission to make a difference.

Sarah Sladek

Concerned about declining engagement in our nation’s membership associations, non-profits, and workplaces, Sarah Sladek founded XYZ University, the nation’s first and only generations-focused training and engagement strategy company, in 2002.

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