“There is no more powerful engine driving an organization toward excellence and long-range success than an attractive, worthwhile, achievable vision for the future, widely shared.”
Once you have thought about the “why” of your business and crafted a meaningful and genuine mission statement, the next focus is communicating your mission to others. If people (employees, clients, and referrals) are going to buy why you do what you do, then that why has to be clear for everyone to see.
Your Mission Should be Written
Communicating your mission to others begins with committing your mission statement to paper. Better yet, display your mission statement in your office for your team and your clients to see.
It’s important to have your mission statement in writing because:
- Your mission becomes real. The purpose of your business can be pointed to and quoted. You and your team can better live by and be judged by your mission when it is accessible and clear.
- You won’t forget. As silly as this sounds, unless you are constantly referring back to your mission to fuel your decisions, your mission will become muddled or abandoned altogether.
- Your team has a reference point. Even if you know your mission, this needs to be communicated to your legal team. If your mission statement is not written your team is in the dark about your mission.
- It can be modified. If the purpose of your business changes for any reason, it is much easier to see that shift if you have a written mission statement that can then be amended to reflect your new direction.
Your Mission Should be Simple
Communicating your mission to others also requires simplicity.
While a well drafted mission statement might be a couple of lines, a few paragraphs, or many pages long, the heart of your mission should be something that can be capture in a word or a short phrase. What is your law firm selling? Here are some ideas:
The list could go on. While your firm’s mission statement may incorporate a number of these company values, your firm will undoubtedly hold one of its values at the pinnacle of its belief system. Think of the psychiatric exercise where a patient is shown a picture and told to say the first word that comes to mind.
What word do you want to be associated with your office?
Making your mission simple enables your mission to be communicated easily. No need to get cute when it comes to explaining your mission to others. Clarity trumps eloquence.
Your Mission Should be Lived
While writing down your mission is a great first step toward communicating your mission to others actions speak louder than words.
In the words of St. Anthony of Padua:
“let your words teach and your actions speak.”
If your written mission is teaching others and primarily your team about your mission, then the daily actions of your business are the true form of communication to others regarding the purpose of your firm. You must not just preach the mission; you must practice it.
Creating a mission statement only to later abandon your mission by inaction means you have wasted your time.
Living your mission means having purpose while you are at the office.
Your legal team needs an office environment where they can make a difference in the lives of others, a purpose driven job. This will keep your team fresh, energized and motivated to improve.
Your team learns about the mission of your office by:
- How you talk about clients when clients are around
- How you talk about clients when clients are not around
- What tasks you are individually willing to perform (most missions in the service industry involve, you guessed it SERVICE. Serving involves a healthy dose of humility. Don’t believe any task in your office is beneath you, even once you determine that it would be best performed by another team member)
- Your being available when you say you will be (teaches that you mean what you say – if you can’t keep an appointment, how can they expect you will live out an ethereal mission)
- Your communication with clients
Clients learn about the mission of your office by:
- What their friends told them about your office
- How their first call is answered and how they are directed to their next step
- How well you follow up with them about inquiries
- Watching you interact with other clients at the office or in court
- Watching how you speak to and interact with your team
- Seeing your mission statement on the wall
Referrals learn about the mission of your office by:
- What your clients tell them about their experience
- Interacting with all the relevant members of your legal team
- Your willingness to share information and make their job easier
- Seeing acknowledgement and gratitude expressed in response to their referring you business
Assessment: How Do We Know if We are Communicating the Mission?
What other people are saying about your law firm is the best indicator of whether or not your firm is achieving its mission.
The reputation of your law practice and its members will help you gage how well you are living up to your mission. If you are communicating your mission to the world, i.e. your team is living the “why we do what we do”, then feedback from those who come into contact with your firm will be in line with and a reflection of your firm’s mission.
James Minick is a criminal defense attorney in Asheville, NC and is the owner of Minick Law, P.C.