I talk with employees all the time who are a bit lost on this concept of “mission.” They can’t bring anything to mind when I ask them what the mission of their company might be, and it doesn’t seem to have any relevance to their job even if there was one.

This is a problem.

Honestly, I don’t really care if you call it a purpose or mission or values or goal. I don’t mind if it doesn’t have a name at all. And I don’t care if it’s in highly refined words which precisely capture in a beautifully wordsmithed paragraph.

But if your employees don’t think that there’s anything more important than just doing their job, then you’ll get people who … just do their job.

Which is fine, I suppose. What you’re missing is them doing it together. In service to the customer. Because it matters to them. Because they care.

When I ask an employee about their company’s mission, I don’t care if they can recite it accurately. What I’m searching for is their personal connection to why their work matters – the work of the individual, of the group, of the entire company. It would be nice to have some similarity to the mission statement on your website, sure, but it’s far more likely that they’ll internalize some aspect of that statement which matters the most to them.

Which is fantastic. You want your employees to internalize their contribution to the big picture. That’s what unlocks their passion, productivity, and loyalty.

When I tell them the mission statement from the website, the last thing I want to get is a blank stare. They don’t see any connection to what they think the company is actually doing, much less why they should care about it.

This is something you can fix. When you have staff meetings and planning sessions, have open conversations about why you do what you do, why customers care, and what each person’s role is in making this happen.

Make the conversation part of your culture, so that the mission can be alive for every person. Help them to be inspired when they see that come alive in the work they’re doing.

Because what you do actually DOES matter. Right?