Employees stay for your company’s mission, not the money. The mission is a company’s purpose for being. The mission statement is usually one sentence-to-short paragraph explanation of its culture, values, and ethics.
The following are mission statements from leading enterprises (via Investopedia):
- Microsoft: Empower every person and organization on the planet to achieve more.
- Chipotle: To change the way people think about and eat fast food.
- MGM Resorts International: MGM Resorts International is the leader in entertainment and hospitality — a diverse collection of extraordinary people, distinctive brands, and best-in-class destinations.
- Nike: To bring inspiration and innovation to every athlete in the world.
- Walmart: We save people money so they can live better.
- Starbucks: To inspire and nurture the human spirit — one person, one cup, and one neighborhood at a time.
- Tesla: To accelerate the world’s transition to sustainable energy.
- JP Morgan: To be the best financial services company in the world.
When you start with a mission-first mentality, you make many different choices. One way to get it right from the start is to have a deliberate mission and purpose. Whether you’re prioritizing customers’ needs or focusing on making a product customers love and selling it at a profit, start with a unifying concept. In most cases, this is regarded as unchangeable. One firm once said, “The founding DNA of a company is critical to its success. Early patterns and behavior shape everything that comes after.”
A mission isn’t solely for selling your company to consumers. The mission is also a highly effective recruiting tool. Mission-driven workers are 54% more likely to stay for five years at a company, and 30% more likely to grow into high performers than those who arrive at work with only their paycheck as the motivator. Today, millennial employees and consumers demand that businesses embrace their purpose and include social justice in their operating DNA.
How you start the company and who you surround yourself with will greatly impact your success. It’s also the unique backgrounds, attention to detail, pursuits, and principles that collectively form a startup’s DNA. Trading on trust internally with your team is essential. And trust must be consistent over time. If you don’t have it, then it’s just a catchphrase. Employees — like consumers — feel it and absorb it.
“The Navy expects its sailors to “have the moral and mental strength to do what is right.” The Air Force says, “Integrity first.” In the Rangers, it was mission first, and always put others before yourself. Veterans understand loyalty and they understand integrity. You can trust them to do the right thing, even when no one else is watching.” – Matthew Thompson, co-founder and COO at ID.me
A company’s mission doesn’t have to be a unique story, but it has to be a combination of determination and intelligence. It has to be sourced from the genetic information of a startup’s DNA. Below are some advice and benefits from mission-first hiring:
- You can’t keep smart people if you tell them what to do. Empower them.
- A mission is essentially your company’s “Why.” Your Why gives your What purpose.
- Constraints such as limited capital or a small team can force creativity.
- Every hire should be slow.
- People before numbers — keep the team small but their ownership high.
- Try to keep upfront costs small when hiring and selling them more on the mission.
- Remember why you started and the mission your early employees shared with you.
- When you follow through with a mission, you continue to hire quality teammates, make better choices, and tackle very complex problems.
- Employees can’t change the world for the better at a company that’s hard-hearted.
- Empower a team of innovators, not imitators.
In addition to reflecting on your company’s mission and thinking through how it’s delivered, be sure you’re hiring for culture contribution, not solely culture fit. Who makes your team stronger? Additionally, working at startups at their core can feel like long uncomfortable periods of time, oftentimes alone. It’s compounded when others try to manifest your reality through everyday activity, with very little room for error. Be kind.
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