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4 Ways to Breathe Life Into Your Mission Statement

A mission statement should be more than just a few sentences on a plaque hanging in your organization’s lobby. It should be the filter through which every decision and interaction is made, and this is especially critical for a faith-based healthcare organization. After all, your mission is the reason you exist. There are several ways you and your executive team can proactively put your mission statement to work in tangible ways.  Here are a few:

  • Make it visible. It’s hard to explain or demonstrate a mission statement to patients, families, physicians, employees, and vendors without a frame of reference. Put it everywhere you can—conference room walls, common areas, over or on doors in high-traffic areas. Create desktop “swag” with the mission statement.  And as for your organization’s website, don’t just relegate the mission statement to a secondary page which few people will visit; put the statement on the homepage itself in a prominent position, preferably near the top (so website visitors don’t have to scroll down to see it). The point is, your mission statement should be placed all over as a constant reminder of why you come to work everyday and passionately serve and lead it.
  • First agenda item.  Ed Fry, Co-Founder and Principle Leader of HealthSearch Partners, shares a meeting “tip” he has routinely incorporated into meetings he is leading.  “I’ve been blessed to chair a number of boards and committees in my career.  Early on, I discovered that if the first agenda item is reading aloud the organization’s mission statement, it is remarkable how the group can better focus on the rest of the agenda.  It helps reduce distraction and enhances the filter in which discussion and analysis occur.  And if the group tends to stray, I’ll remind them of the mission statement.  I suspect this one technique alone has increased meeting efficiency by at least ten percent.  Write the mission statement at the top of the agenda, then have the chair read it out loud while others follow along.  This ‘double sensory experience’ reinforces the mental absorption,” says Fry.  This activity is particularly helpful when the group includes individuals who may not be involved in the day-to-day activities of the organization, such as boards and board committees.
  • Screen for it in hiring. Every one employee you hire should be compatible with your mission.  Obviously, some will “buy” into it more than others, but you should never hire a candidate who is blatantly opposed to your mission.  Fry suggests placing it in all recruitment materials and probing for “mission match” when you interview candidates.  “Read your mission statement to each prospect and ask them how they feel about it and whether they can support it,” says Fry.  By the time new employees begin their first shift, they should know the heart of the mission statement like the back of their hand. Becoming familiar with the end goals of the organization — even from before they were hired — will help them adjust their actions, words and service accordingly, as well as know what is expected of them.
  • Recognize and reward staff for embodying it. A tangible, memorable way to encourage staff to be consciously pursuing implementing the mission in their day-to-day work is by recognizing their efforts and rewarding them for it publicly. Whether it’s calling them out in a staff meeting, having an employee of the month or “wall of fame,” or rewarding them with a small gift or perk on the job, this approach can keep employees engaged in the mission and give them concrete reminders to be intentional. “Don’t be ashamed of your mission,” says Fry.  “If you don’t use it, and often, you’ll lose it.  And as faith-based organizations, we have a higher calling to ‘lead with mission.’”

Ed Fry is a founding partner of HealthSearch Partners,