Why I Hate Mission Statements—But Love Missions

MissionNinety-nine percent of the mission statements out there are useless. Have you read them? Indeed, some read more like an essay than a statement.

The Global Beauty Leader. We will build a unique portfolio of Beauty and related brands, striving to surpass our competitors in quality, innovation and value, and elevating our image to become the Beauty Company most women turn to worldwide.

The Women’s Choice for Buying. We will become the destination store for women, offering the convenience of multiple brands and channels, and providing a personal high touch shopping experience that helps create lifelong customer relationships.

The Premier Direct Seller. We will expand our presence in direct selling and lead the reinvention of the channel, offering an entrepreneurial opportunity that delivers superior earnings, recognition, service and support, making it easy and rewarding to be affiliated with Avon and elevating the image of our industry.

The Best Place to Work. We will be known for our leadership edge, through our passion for high standards, our respect for diversity and our commitment to create exceptional opportunities for professional growth so that associates can fulfill their highest potential.

The Largest Women’s Foundation. We will be a committed global champion for the health and well-being of women through philanthropic efforts that eliminate breast cancer from the face of the earth, and that empower women to achieve economic independence.

The Most Admired Company. We will deliver superior returns to our shareholders by tirelessly pursuing new growth opportunities while continually improving our profitability, a socially responsible, ethical Company that is watched and emulated as a model of success.

Some say virtually nothing, like this one: “To grow profitably and provide shareholder value.” Who doesn’t want those things?

Most companies use fluffy language provided by a marketing firm or a consultant that sounds polished, but remove anything that makes them stand out as an organization.

What good are these statements? How do they help your business? The short answer: They don’t.

Whenever I walk into an organization and ask employees what the organization’s mission is, I typically get varied responses:

  1. “I don’t know.”
  2. “Let me look that up”
  3. “Let me find that for you.”
  4. The blank stare.

Basically, I get a different answer from everybody.

Mission statements hang on a wall or adorn a website page and that is about all. But a mission has the potential to guide organizations into real action.

For example, during the Cola Wars, Pepsi had one of the best missions. Simply put in just two words the mission was “Beat Coke.” (By the way, it was at a time when Pepsi made Coke a little nervous because they made strides during that time.)

Granted, there is a life expectancy to that mission, and it needs to change or be refreshed when it is no longer relevant. However, talk about, clear, concise and compelling—and real.

  1. Missions are known. Think about it: Would you send a group of soldiers into a conflict without a mission or without them knowing the mission? No way. But most organizations do just that.
  2. Missions are a rallying cry or call to action. Missions give us direction and something for which to shoot. I love St. Jude’s mission, for example. They will not settle until there is a cure for cancer. In fact, they consistently reference their success as the day they will put themselves out of business. They know why they come to work everyday!
  3. Missions are influencers of our work. When a mission is clear, concise, and compelling, it influences the way we work. Take Pepsi’s mission to “Beat Coke.” Every employee could ask themselves each day: “What am I going to do to help us beat Coke today?” What a powerful question. Try doing that with the mission statement at the top of this post.
  4. Missions are bigger than just one person. Missions bind groups of people together for a common goal or effort and help people rise above themselves. When done right, missions create pride and engagement. Homewood Suites, a consistent J.D. Powers Award winner, teaches its employees that their job is about providing a “Home away from home.” A place where extended stay travelers (a.k.a. Road Warriors) feel comfortable. Their jobs are bigger than their roles. Missions are about culture.
  5. Missions are constantly being revisited. Missions are alive and active. Whether you hold shift meetings, monthly meetings, use performance appraisals, or hold coaching sessions, missions are built in the operation and people threads of the business. We should measure how we are doing against our mission, train people on the mission and brainstorm new ways to make our mission stay fresh and alive. We should find ways to help people identify with and personalize their approach to the mission.

Missions are the glue that holds us together as an organization and connects us with our customers. Missions are the vehicle that helps us all drive in the same direction.

Bottom line: I hate mission statements. But I love missions!

Originally published in ATD

Target Employee’s Amazing Black Friday Pep Talk

Shift meetings are supposed to be fun and motivating.  But most are boring.  These meetings are a great opportunity to get feedback from your employees.  But most are one way communication tools.  Most importantly, these meetings should have a call to action.  Yet most fall flat.

The shift meeting below does not fall flat.  This manager understands what a shift meeting can do.  Enjoy.  It is one of the best!

It starts with this…”People of Target, brothers, sisters, hear me now,” he said. “They’re standing out there. Any moment now, those doors will be breached. Whatever comes through those gates, you will stand your ground with a smile on your face.” And it only gets better!

7 Effective Tips For Better Customer Loyalty

The emotional bond of customer loyalty may not appear on your business’s bottom line, but ignore it and you’ll quickly see how important customer loyalty is to the survival of your organization.

7 Effective Tips For Better Customer Loyalty image customer experience understandingTo create better, more effective customer loyalty, your have to craft a customer experience that combines elements of physical, emotional, and transactional value for your customers.

Most business industries today really work in commodities. Your specific type of product or service, from your customer’s point of view, is less unique than you think it is.

Customers today are bombarded with options and are constantly being pitched by competitors to switch and save. With the high cost of customer acquisition in many industries, ongoing customer loyalty is critical for organizations to remain profitable.

7 Key Elements of Organizations With Massive Customer Loyalty

Generating the type of customer relationships and bonds with customers that keep customers engaged and loyal requires connecting with customers on an intellectual, emotional, or even a spiritual level that makes your customer experience more than just a typical transaction. In essence, the experience becomes more human interaction, than business necessity.

1. Be totally upfront about bad news

Customers crave transparency and reward organizations that are totally upfront in good times and bad. Buffer, an online social media sharing service that I highly recommend and use every day, recently had a security issue that compromised the sharing service for many of their customers. Rather than denying it took place, the Buffer team was totally honest and upfront, and most importantly timely in their response.

Rather than angry mobs the customer response was actually positive with encouraging words for the team as they worked on a fix. Buffer enjoys even stronger customer loyalty because of their transparency and emphasis on solving issues for their customers. Specifically look at how often the Buffer team updated customers during the situation and then the overall response of customers in the post comments.

2. Be generous with good news

One frequent frustration customers have is that companies are so quick to reward new customers and at the same time ignore existing, long time customers. Take cable and satellite service companies. Look at one of their ads and you’ll quickly see a long list of perks that you as a customer are clearly not getting, no matter how long you’ve been a customer.

Customers quickly become frustrated when they see the value of their purchase or service diminishing. Offering new and improved services for new customers but ignoring existing loyal customers is basically throwing away that loyalty you’ve worked so hard to build.

3. Personal means more than value (usually)

Your customers are human and they expect a human interaction, not a bland, generic one. A personal message on your customer’s birthday, in terms of customer loyalty can often mean much, much more than an extra 10% off sale on a holiday weekend. Customers still appreciate the value you offer them, but the emotional bond that really creates customer loyalty is more effective when customers feel and know that you are thinking about them on a personal level.

4. People are loyal to people, not corporations

No one has a relationship with corporate headquarters, computers, and office desks. But customers relate to and connect with the people who occupy and use those to drive your business forward. Remember that your customer loyalty often comes down to the relationships that your customers develop with the people they interact with from your business on a regular basis.

5. Customers have to be part of your organization’s DNA

Everyone can spot fake and cheap customer experience. Creating the type of experience your customers feel is genuine, begins with converting your entire organization to wanting to win the customer. If your organization is not on the same page, at some point of the experience, the emotion you’re trying to build will break down.

Your front line people may be fast, effective, and engaging, but if product development isn’t as obsessed with customers, the experience will feel disjointed and it’ll be difficult to develop the type of loyalty that keeps customers for the long run.

6. Compete only against yourself

Customer service today is in trouble. Customer service is so bad that we’re often delighted just when we receive mediocre service. With such a bad standard or service, competing against the rest of the bad customer service pack will keep you delivering average, mediocre customer service. Instead, forget about the competition and compete against yourself.

Be sure that you’re delivering what customers expect, then dream of how you can make what your customers are trying to do even better, fast, more efficient and effective. Your customers will validate the minor details of how things should work, but innovation has to come from your and your vision for developing a more complete customer experience.

7. Reward customer loyalty

It’s not only enough to offer value and function to your customers, but customers need to be recognized for their willingness to shut the door when competitors come knocking. Too many times feeling neglected is enough to send customers to the waiting arms of your competitors. Be on the prowl of customers doing right and be sure you recognize it.

My daughter’s school has a genius program to getting kids to act right and keep them acting right. She had “caught being good” cards. Teachers walk around with cards that they hand out to kids doing what is right, going the extra mile to do good to others and excel in what they should do. When they see a student going above an beyond, they reward them with a “caught being good” card that they can turn in for small prizes.

Do what is right!

It has to be personal, it has to be valuable, and it has to be meaningful. Discounts are not enough, especially in B2B where your customers aren’t spending their own money. Instead, reward continued business with special gifts or perks that go beyond just typical discount so that it rewards the person making the decision that rewards your business.

Customers want to be rewarded for doing what’s good for your business. Be good to your customers, no, really good to your customers and they’ll reward you with long-term customer loyalty and success.

Originally published in Business 2 Community

Study: Apple is no longer consumers’ favorite tech brand to deal with

Apple Customer Satisfaction Study

Apple had been a leader for several years in Forrester Research’s annual study on consumer electronics brand customer satisfaction, but the latest edition of the research firm’s survey marks a huge changing of the guard. The study gauges consumers’ satisfaction level with consumer electronics brands by posing three questions: 1) How enjoyable were they to do business with? 2) How easy were they to do business with? 3) How effective were they at meeting your needs? Amazon had topped the rankings in the three-year-old study for each of the first two years, and the company continued its streak in Forrester’s 2014 survey, The Wall Street Journal reports. Apple secured the No. 2 spot in 2012 and 2013, but the company’s satisfaction score fell behind rivals Samsung, Microsoft and Sony this year.


The study surveyed 7,500 U.S. consumers and assigned a point value to satisfaction ratings for each question. The total scores were then tallied and compared.

According to WSJ’s report, Amazon handily topped rivals in Forrester’s 2014 study with a total score of 91. That’s a huge improvement from 2013′s score of 85, though 85 would still have been enough to lead the pack in 2014.

Sony’s score of 83 was good enough for the No. 2 spot, while Microsoft and Samsung shared the No. 3 position with a score of 82 points each. Apple rounded out the top-5 with a score of 81.

Forrester labels any score between 76 and 85 as “good,” while Amazon’s score of 91 pushes its rating to “excellent.”

Originally published in BGR

Cheerios, interracial marriages, and the wisdom of children

When a Cheerios internet commercial came out recently that featured an interracial family it was a test.  And as a society we failed.

It was a simple message.  Cheerios is heart healthy.  For those of you who have not seen it, there is a link below and a summary of the commercial as well.

A mother sits at her kitchen table writing when her daughter walks up with a box of Cheerios.

“Mom,” says the girl. “Yes, honey?” says mom. “Dad told me Cheerios is good for your heart. Is that true?”

Mom looks at the box, and answers that it says the whole-grain oats inside are “heart healthy.”

The commercial picks up with dad asleep on the couch.  He starts to wake up notices a pile of Cheerios on his chest covering where his heart is located.

The commercial sounds harmless enough and similar to other commercials aired in the past.  The difference in this commercial is that the mom is white, the dad is black and the daughter is biracial.  Disappointingly, the comment section had to be turned off due to the vitriol spouted by anonymous racists out on the internet.  While the overwhelming majority was supportive of the commercial, I can only say I was saddened by the strong reaction of a few.

We have a ways to go.  We struggle in our personal and work lives to be included.  The idea that every citizen and employee should be able to feel valued, heard and have a safe place and a space available to them is an important one. This is one of the reasons we have discrimination lawsuits and engagement levels are so low.  Those that spread hate make us all uncomfortable.

There is hope.  My faith was restored when I watch a follow-up to the commercial (link below).  When the commercial was shown to children not one of them could see anything wrong with the commercial.  To say that these children were confused, stunned, and shocked when told what the reaction to the commercial was and why is an understatement.    Here are some of their reactions:

“It’s just the color of their skin, what matters is if they’re nice or mean”

“I thought Martin Luther King spoke against this and fixed this already”

“Underneath it, you’re literally the same. You have organs and a heart.”

“Some people just fall in love like that.”

Leave it to the next generation to demonstrate the wisdom and caring that ours still needs to learn.  Hopefully, they can out beautify the ugly spouted by those still living in a past world that lacked the understanding and value of others that differed from them.  Hopefully the next generation will continue to make this world a more inclusive place where everyone has a safe place and a space to contribute.  Thank you for restoring my hope.

Engagement without Borders

Are You “Expanding the Territory” of Engagement at Your Workplace?Territory

In reaching out to employees and customers, organizations are realizing that engagement begins beyond their own walls. ClubCorp, which markets itself as the World Leader in Private Clubs and Resorts, introduced a concept to attract and retain members by appealing to their interests. The concept, “Clubs without Walls,” recognizes that the company’s members bring dreams and aspirations that go beyond services that can be provided in the Club environment.

Employees and others with whom we come in contact have dreams and aspirations they bring to the workplace, as well. In fact, these dreams and aspirations are an important part of making them “engagement ready,” motivated to create value through a spirit of teamwork. The success of these individuals in the work environment depends, to a large degree, on their sense of fulfillment and their recognition that their teammates care about their personal success, as well as their contributions in the workplace.

It would seem then, that our success in developing a spirit of engagement depends on our willingness to know our teammates as individuals, and to be willing to help them achieve their personal goals.

Recently, I read a story written by Bob Proctor, CEO of Life Success Productions, in which he described a conversation that illustrated this point. Bob had an employee, who in her previous career was a golf pro. In speaking with her about her work with his organization and her level of satisfaction there, Bob sensed an unusual degree of excitement when she described a program she had developed before she joined his company.

The employee had been arranging golf trips for women in small groups. Although the participants were given the opportunity to play golf with a pro and receive personal instruction about the game, it was not necessary or common for them to be expert golfers. Instead, the women took the opportunity to focus on the relaxation of this time, and the companionship with other members of the group. Many of these women followed up with one another and the golf pro after the trips, to maintain these relationships and describe the value they continued to receive from them.

Bob said this conversation helped him understand how he could be doing a better job with his own people. He believes business owners have an obligation to create an environment in which every person “grows as a human being and develops more of their potential, so they can truly become all they are meant to become.” He believes that to do this, every person must have a dream.

So, Bob decided to help his employee by encouraging her to continue with her program, and he supported her in doing so. He introduced his employee to others by saying,

“Kathy Gallagher is a beautiful person.  She is a good friend.  I feel very

fortunate being able to introduce you to her and to her Ladies Luxury Golf


Bob felt that as long as his employee performed well in her work with his organization, there was no reason not to encourage her to continue in her interest in the golf trips. He found a way to create a win-win, by highlighting this interesting offering. In turn, he was able to share with others the professionalism of his staff, build employee morale, and create added value for his contacts.

How would you introduce your employees and teammates to others? Although the circumstances may be different, there is always a way to appreciate the dreams of employees, and help them fulfill them. This might come in the form of introductions, recognition, a bonus to help the employee succeed, or adjustments in their schedule, assignments, or professional development opportunities to help them fulfill these goals.

As you look at your fellow employees, customers, and other contacts in this way, your business can expand. The offerings of your company are shown as going “beyond the walls” to make a much greater and more positive impact.

To begin this process, ask yourself the following questions:

What are my dreams and ambitions?

What are those of my teammates?  My customers?

How can these interests and abilities be recognized in the team environment?

How can they create value, now and in the future?

How does sharing these dreams and ambitions help employees learn from, and support one another, in the work environment?

How are the gifts and interests of employees captured and included in the future planning for my company?

Employee Engagement Surveys…Junk?

Survey PictureBack in the 90’s employee engagement surveys became the rage.  Of course many of the surveys and the data were being collected in the 80’s.  One of the seminal studies was made famous by the Harvard Business Review demonstrating a connection between employee satisfaction and revenue/customer purchasing.  It was about Sears in their heyday.

While US organizations spend over $700 million attempting to strengthen employee engagement, most of it is spent on surveys that do not work and not on efforts that do.

The Journal for Quality and Participation says that in many cases you are wasting your money. “The dirty little secret of employee engagement surveys is that they’re largely junk science.”

There are a number of problems with these surveys.

  • The models were born in the 80’s and people still think they are relevant.
  • Benchmark data can lead you astray by comparing your organization to averages and organizations that are either not relevant or face different challenges.
  • Consulting firms provide recommendations that for problems that do not exist or have little impact.
  • Action planning, the way it is handled, does not promote engagement principles.
  • Organizations spend so much getting a picture of what their organization looks like from the survey, they invest little in actually impacting engagement.
  • Survey companies have difficultly offering practical advice or understanding their client’s business.