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Tips for Developing a Team Mission Statement

written by: N Nayab • edited by: Ginny Edwards • updated: 1/22/2011

A team mission statement identifies the major purpose of the team’s existence or the role the team plays in satisfying customer wants. It helps to place focus on team effort and to rally team members to a common cause. Read on for key considerations in developing a team mission statement

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    Focus

    Developing a Team Mission Statement Many people confuse the mission statement with the vision statement. A mission statement is concerned with the present goals whereas a vision statement describes an ideal future state that the team strives to achieve. The basic consideration when developing a team mission statement is to make this distinction.

    A good mission statement describes the “who," “what," “how," and “why" of teamwork. “Who" relates to the team’s stakeholders. “Why" details the purpose of the team, or the reason why the team exists. “What" refers to the service that the team provides to the customer or stakeholders, and “how" refers to team activities and methods adopted to provide such service. A mission statement that incorporates these aspects provides the team with overall goals and a sense of direction and purpose.
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    The team mission statement, while providing such an accurate description of the team focus and effort, however still needs to remain flexible in implementation.
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    Image Credit: flickr.com/Wouter Kiel
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    Identifying Stakeholders

    A primary consideration when developing the team mission statement needs to be on stakeholder identification and analysis. Stakeholders are people directly associated with the team, and stakeholder analysis addresses how the team relates to them. Such a relationship needs to find reflection in the team mission statement.

    The common stakeholder of a team includes the team members themselves, other employees who constitute the internal customers of the team, the customers of the business, and others. For instance, the stakeholders of a Human Resources (HR) team could include all the HR staff working in the organization, and other employees of the organization who serve as internal customers. The mission statement in such a case could address the HR staff fulfilling the training and development needs of such internal customers.

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    Participative Effort

    One important consideration when preparing the team mission statement is involving all team members. The team leader ideally needs to play the role of a facilitator and to take inputs from the team members before finalizing the mission statement.

    The best approach is to prepare an initial draft, make the draft visible to the stakeholders, and refine the draft based on inputs received from stakeholders, and then consider whether the statements make sense to the stakeholders and/or inspires them.

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    Style

    The language and style of the mission statement contributes to its effectiveness.

    The best mission statements are short, precise, and easy to understand. The most effective statements use active tense and a direct style, avoid wordiness, and remain packed with powerful action words, but still simple enough for stakeholders to remember the statement.

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    Implementation

    The mission statement provides a template for better decision-making by employees at all levels, and as such remains worthless unless acted on.

    One important consideration after preparing the mission statement is therefore to implement the same by using it to power team activities. Involving the stakeholders in mission statement development provides them with a sense empowerment and ownership to the mission statement, increasing their acceptance and participation.

    The key to team success lies in is not just developing a team mission statement, but also in living the mission statement.

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