“Once a foundation of engagement is in place, then you can focus on culture change. If you can’t engage your employees, then you can’t build a culture, and if you can’t do that, then all talk of mission rings hollow.”
(Nate Dvorak, “When Mission Doesn’t Matter”, Gallup Blog, April 10/18)
I used to preach/yell/chant/scream about how important it was that everyone in the building needed to abide by the expressed mission. Have it memorized, and be able to recite it to everyone they met, on demand. The mission was supposed to be a passionate response to the ‘Why?’ of all our work, no matter how small or insignificant we thought the job might be.
Then I realized how often my work would be at odds with the custodian.
They did not care how beautiful the words were, or how meaningful the rest of us on 20161217_161058staff thought them to be. In fact, they did not even know what the mission was at the time. After a few particularly draining discussions after events I deemed as amazingly spectacular and mission-focused, the clarification of mission became clear. When asked, the custodian’s mission was to keep the space clean for visitors, not to clean up after my group.
Our motivation may not be the overarching mission we have declared, rather it is a fulfillment of a certain aspect we can clearly see before us.
There is a difference, and it can be a big one if we are not listening and cooperating with one another to accomplish both. For the one, keeping things manageable and in place for all other parts to function, is a motivating forward motion. For the other, it is to aim for something unattainable. Most mission statements are based on a goal that sets the target for all other goals, and therefore is never fully within grasp. So the motivation separator is this:
  1. Do you work well with a goal you can grab hold of?
  2. Do you work well with something you are continually working towards?
To be clear, I work well with all custodians. I just do not expect them to be working towards my goal in the same way I do. At the end of the day, whomever you are working with is striving in the same direction, but the target might look a little different.

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