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

Advertisements

The Workforce Challenge

What’s standing in the way of our running a successful enterprise?

Executives from all over the world were asked to choose the top two obstacles to building a workforce that meets their future business needs. The two biggest obstacles identified were:

  • Employee longevity or loyalty
  • Adequate leadership

Source: Oxford Economics’ Workforce 2020: The looming Talent Crisis 2014

When you compare that with following Career Builder statistic:

  • Only 34% of U.S. workers aspire to leadership positions, with 7% aiming for senior or C-level management.

We have a challenging recipe.  But when you add-on that several studies that state people will switch jobs over 10 times by the time they reach 30 we are really underwater.

What do you think we can do to address this issue?

Leadership Transitions

If only 34% of U.S. workers aspire to leadership positions, with 7% aiming for senior or C-level management what will that mean for our leadership bench strength? share your thoughts and ideas.

Bringing Young Leaders Forward

At Five Star Bank, we are always looking for ways to further our employees’ talents and invest in their strengths. It is part of bringing the best service we can to our customers. A prime example is Five Star Bank employee Stephanie Petrakos, who started at the bank eight years ago fresh out of college as a management trainee and worked her way up. Currently she is the Vice President and Credit Administrator. In her position she is required to have a leadership role in the bank’s credit department. As such, she was sent to a leadership development conference through Independent Community Bankers of America. What she also found was that Five Star Bank could be ahead of other organizations when it comes to ushering in the next generation of its leadership.

Read the full article at:

Five Star Bank

Brad Federman Interviewed by Business Interviews

“In terms of a unique tool or technique used to help create a more sensitive or respective workplace environment nothing beats one-on-one connections and conversations.”

Brad Federman

Brad Federman
F&H Solutions Group
COO

F&H Solutions Group (FHSG) is a national consulting firm specializing in human resources and labor relations matters. Their HR consultants have unmatched expertise and experience in working with all types and sizes of organizations in different industries in both the private and public sectors.

FHSG provides solutions for a better workplace. Clients value their ability to develop strategies that have a positive impact on their organization and save them time and money.

F & H Solutions Group

BusinessInterviews.com: What are some trends in the human resources industry that you’re excited about?

Brad: I’m excited about several trends in the Human Resource industry. One of the first things I find exciting are the millennials. We have such great diversity in terms of generational differences in the workplace. It has opportunity to cause a lot of conflict, yet it also has an opportunity to create change. We have so many tools out there that promote networking and connections that are no longer hierarchical and yet we live in organizations that make it difficult to utilize those platforms in a productive manner because they are focused on hierarchy and outdated policies. When organizations catch up to where society is you have moments when things really work, where people truly connect at a unique level and a great deal of innovation occurs. I think this next generation is going to drive that, they are going to make that happen. They believe in workplace balance, being treated as an adult, jumping in and participating on the frontend. They want to put their imprint on what they create which means that our workplace needs to begin to represent that in the way that we establish our structures, our policies and procedures, etc.

The second trend I really am excited about is globalization. While that trend has being going on for a long time, what’s unique and different is that it is continuing to infiltrate every aspect of business. It doesn’t matter whether you work for a large company such as Microsoft, or you work for a small mom and pop shop, at some point the concept of diversity, globalization and dealing with different cultures is going to impact your business. I know small firms with one or two people in them that work across the globe and respond to clients of different backgrounds and nationalities. This presents a real challenge for a lot of miscommunication, etc. However, what is exciting is that people are getting better at understanding differences, embracing differences, learning about different cultures. We are becoming more mature in the way we view people around the globe.

The last trend is technology in HR. Now, I am not excited about the technology per se, I am excited about what possibilities it presents. You see, the history of HR is it’s an outgrowth of the legal profession so it’s been focused on risks and compliance. The truth is that in today’s world with everything becoming more and more transparent due to technology and because of the type of worker in place it is imperative that HR is focused more on building a strong culture and relationships that drive business success and performance. Focusing on risks and compliance doesn’t allow HR to do that. The idea of risks and compliance are going to go away would be foolish and unrealistic. However, with the amount of technology that is coming into play and the ability to outsource so many of these compliance functions to organizations that specialize in these areas allows HR an opportunity to shed what does not add value to the company and focus their activities on what does. That is exciting.

BusinessInterviews.com: Can you provide an example of a unique tool or technique that you’ve used to help encourage a more sensitive, respectful workplace environment?

Brad: In terms of a unique tool or technique used to help create a more sensitive or respective workplace environment nothing beats one-on-one connections and conversations. People are always more respectful and sensitive to those they understand, that they know personally. They are also more respectful and sensitive to those that they really listen to. So one activity that we do to encourage this kind of situation is called “rant and rave.” We have them stick two flipcharts up in the workplace for their team. One is rant, “What makes you rant about this place?” “What drives you crazy on a day to day basis?” And the other one is rave. “What makes you want to cheer?” “What makes you excited about working here?” And the leader gives people time to write things upon on those flip charts privately and when they are finished we encourage the leader of that team to have a conversation with their team about what is on those two flipcharts. The conversation is centered on two things (1) how do we remove, eliminate or reduce the things that drive us crazy, that make us rant; and (2) how do we increase or keep the things that make us rave, that we love? The wording is key because it is not how can I as the leader do it, it is how can “we” as a “team” do it? This should not be about the leader it should be about the group.

The second technique is that we create interviews for leaders to foster interesting conversations with their employees such as specific questions that we know will generate a conversation centered on personal things. In working with a major retailer, we had them take two or three questions that we supplied them and asked them to incorporate these questions into conversations with their people. They were shocked at what they found out. They learned about hardships and about the fact that many of their people are struggling financially. They realized that some of the things that they did as a leadership team actually caused their people to be frustrated or disengaged even though they had good intent. When they had this new information about their employees they were able to respond in kind and change the way people viewed them in the workplace. Because of this knowledge changes were made to make the workplace more respect oriented and fun. Ultimately it was all because they understood who their employees were and what they were going through.

BusinessInterviews.com: What are some common obstacles you see top-level managers encountering and how can they be avoided?

Brad: Top level managers are encountering a lot of obstacles in their daily work. One of the biggest obstacles that people face is their pace of work. Since technology follows us wherever we go managers struggle to be more efficient and one way is to multi-task. Unfortunately, when we try to get more done more efficiently the quality of our work and ability to problem solve goes down because we need space and time to really reflect. Also, when we multi-task we know that things actually take longer, the quality of our work drops and we wind up sending a message to the people around us that they are not valued because doing things like answering emails while having conversations. Leaders who do a great job of handling this issue do it by knowing what to say “no” to. They do that to free up time and space to tackle complex challenges and problems. Problems that need buy in from different stake holders. The ability to say “no” to different things is what gives you an opportunity to truly say “yes” and commit to others.

The second obstacle that top level mangers encounter is forgetting what it is like to be an employee, a worker on the line, or in an entry level position in today’s work world. They don’t know their employee’s concerns and don’t realize that employees struggle just to make their rent or pay the gas to get to work. They become further removed from their employees by only hanging out with other leaders, creating separate dining rooms, separate bathrooms, putting themselves on separate floors and creating environments where they sit up high and watch over the staff. This creates barriers between themselves and the people with who they work. When those barriers exist even with the best intent we take actions that cause people to disengage and promote significant distance between us and those with who we work. The best way we can avoid making this mistake is reducing those barriers by promoting cross-pollination between different levels of people so people can talk openly and freely and encourage people to build connections with each other, not just professional connections, but to get to know each other personally. The client I referenced earlier, where we had them ask two or three questions of each employee is a good example. One of the “aha’s” they had was they had a lot of people who were struggling monetarily in their company. They had made a decision in some of the charity work they were doing to stop crediting people with giving their time and asking people just to give money. Some of the people they were asking to give money to a food bank were actually spending their time at the food bank because they needed food. The idea that their manager asked them to give money to the very same food bank that they have to go to so they can eat was emotionally distressing. When these leaders realized what they were doing to their people they had a very different perspective about their charitable efforts in the office. They had a very different perspective about the reaction employees had to the charitable efforts in their office and they would never had a sense of humility and a sense of empathy towards their employees if they had never asked such questions.

BusinessInterviews.com: Do you ever find that time-management is over looked as an important component to building a strong leadership foundation?

Brad: I think time management is actually not only over looked, I think it is misunderstood. There are some things you can tack with basic time management such as keeping meetings short, putting some rules in place not to waste time, but time management is a subset of something bigger which I would call choice management. Every day we walk into work and we make choices. Where will we spend or not spend our time and how will we spend our time? I believe it is about choice management not time management. People look at time management as a date book, as scheduling in Outlook and it really is about priorities. The way we spend our time is a reflection of our priorities. Those people that struggle with time management are really struggling with priorities. Being a leader means understanding what has the most impact and then spending time and resources on those impactful activities. That’s our core effort. Anything else either needs to be outsourced or removed, or managed efficiently using a system. The tasks that deserve our time, our efforts, that are truly core and important, those are our priorities and that is where our time and energy should be spent.

BusinessInterviews.com: What advice would you pass onto a manager who has been experiencing a long-term, high volume of staff absences?

Brad: The advice that I would give to a manager that is experiencing long-term, high volume of staff absences is to first look at them self and ask them self, what am I doing or not doing that is inherently contributing to the absences? Your team is a reflection of you. We create a shadow that we cast on our departments, our groups, our teams, based on our own behavior. Second they should look at how they are recruiting, hiring, and on-boarding new employees. Are they hiring for job and culture fit, not just skill set? People need to be good, but they also need to feel good (about what they are doing).

BusinessInterviews.com: Can you share with our readers why this is such an exciting time to be working for F&H Solutions Group?

Brad: When you ask me why it is such an exciting time to work at F&H Solutions Group, the reason has a lot to do with the trends in the human resource industry going on now. The complexity, challenges, excitement of the change that is happening in our organizations, and in the HR industry as a whole, makes working here fun. We are on the preface of significant shift in the way we operate, the way we think about human behavior and the way we interact with organizations. To me this is an thrilling moment in time and because the transformation in the workplace is creating some stimulating projects and a lot of growth. After all we like to learn and be challenge ourselves.

F&H Solutions Group is a creative, innovative organization that is reflecting today’s organizational needs. I would much rather work for this firm because a lot of firms have not moved forward and are basically are stuck in the 80’s and 90’s workplace and mindset.

The Leadership Deficit: The Problem, Its Causes, and Solutions as Identified in Research Study

According to a new study from APQC, the nonprofit leader in benchmarking and best practices research, nearly 80 percent of respondents indicate that current business challenges require a different leadership style, but only 21 percent said that their organization’s leadership practices are very effective, thus indicating a broad inability to build new leadership skills. Further, 46 percent report that their organization places little or no priority on leadership development. As outlined in APQC’s report—The Leadership Deficit—solutions for overcoming these challenges are not easy but may start with something as simple as developing necessary leadership capabilities in ALL employees, not just high performers.Sponsored by THEaster Consulting, the research garnered survey responses from 547 professionals.“In this study, we found that leadership deficiencies are big and there are many of them, largely because leadership development is underfunded, outdated, and resisted,” said Elissa Tucker, SPHR and Human Capital Management research program manager for APQC. “These findings suggest that organizations may need to adopt a number of cultural changes and revise human resource policies and practices to help alleviate the leadership skills shortage. From new compensation models, to how and for whom leadership training is conducted, our study provides a number of potential solutions for what is seen as a growing business challenge.”The ProblemAPQC’s study identified the top leadership skills organizations need to succeed, and then what leadership skills employees currently possess. When skills needed versus skills employees possess were compared, APQC identified the following as the top five leadership skill deficiencies:

  • Strategic planning
  • Change management
  • Knowledge sharing
  • Listening
  • Emotional Intelligence

What’s Driving the Gap?To identify the key contributing factors to the leadership skills shortage, participants were asked how much various leadership and business trends described their organizations. APQC then investigated the relationship between the different leadership trends and the total leadership skills gap. The top four leadership trends significantly associated with the largest leadership skills gaps are:

  • selection, development, and reward practices encourage an outdated leadership style;
  • leaders are resistant to changing their leadership styles;
  • organizations are underinvesting in leadership development; and
  • current business challenges require a different leadership style.

APQC conducted the same analysis with business trends impacting organizations and found the following four trends to be associated with the largest skills gaps:

  • unpredictable events;
  • reduced employee tenure;
  • aging work force;
  • and emergence of Generation Y/Millennial work force.

Potential SolutionsSurvey participants rated how well a number of leadership practices described their organizations, after which APQC examined whether each practice is associated with a larger or smaller leadership gap. The results indicate that the top four practices associated with the smallest skills gaps are:

  • leadership capabilities are developed in all employees;
  • a leadership competency model is used to select and develop leaders;
  • employees selected as having leadership potential take part in a formal leadership development program;
  • and compensation is based on performance.

One leadership practice was significantly associated with a larger skills gap—having a significant difference between leader compensation and compensation of other employees.“These results suggest that, contrary to common practice, leadership capabilities should be developed in all employees,” said Tucker. “Doing so provides a larger pool from which to choose candidates for formal, high-potential leadership development programs. More importantly, organizations that go a step further to establish work cultures and practices that empower all employees to act as leaders can respond more quickly and precisely to unpredictable events. Other practical measures, such as using leadership competency models to guide development efforts and aligning monetary incentives with organizational strategy, will help encourage the right behaviors in leaders and the best outcomes for their organizations.”“Our clients at THEaster Consulting come to us seeking innovative, informed solutions to the toughest human resource management challenges, and The Leadership Deficit report from APQC provides us with actionable data to build support for cultivating leaders who proactively address the needs of today’s workforce, not just continue doing what they’ve always done,” commented Terri Hartwell Easter, principal at THEaster Consulting. “The reality is that present-day business challenges require a sustained investment in leadership development, and organizations who take the lead on leadership are the ones that will come out ahead now and in the future.”

Originally published in heraldonline

Keeping Up With the Demand for Talent

While most organizations recognize the need to identify and develop future leaders, many struggle to do so. Among the problems are inconsistency in search criteria and inability to forecast potential.

Identifying, developing and retaining high-potential talent could be the single greatest challenge organizations face during the next decade, but few organizations are confident in their ability to meet this challenge.

Eighty-four percent of talent development professionals surveyed by UNC Kenan-Flagler Business School reported that the demand for high-potential talent has increased in the past five years, driven primarily by growth (74 percent) and competitive pressure (61 percent) (Figure 1). Almost half (47 percent) of those talent development professionals stated in the “UNC Leadership Survey 2013: High-Potential Leadership” report that the current pool of high-potential talent does not meet the anticipated future need (Figure 2). Another 18 percent of those surveyed didn’t know if the current pool of high potentials will meet future needs.

?

In addition, organizations expressed only moderate confidence in their ability to fill mission-critical roles and develop talent. Survey respondents rated their ability to forecast the skills and competencies needed for success during the next three to five years as good. Participants gave a similar rating to their ability to forecast potential shortages in the talent pipeline during the next five years.

Challenges in Identifying High Potentials

More than half of the survey respondents (56 percent) have a formal process to identify high-potential employees. Another 21 percent plan to start or restart a process to identify it. They are motivated by the need to meet demand for future leaders (83 percent) and the desire to retain key talent (83 percent). These organizations recognize that identifying and investing in high-potential talent improves commitment and engagement, laying the foundation for future success.

Originally published in Talent Management