Do You Mean your Mission Statement?
We have been encouraged by the number of agencies who develop and prominently post their Mission Statement for your customers and employees to see and understand. That is, we are pleased to see Mission Statements until we realize how few of them are understood and followed by employees. Do your employees know your Mission Statement? If your customers were shown your mission Statement, would they agree that it describes your business? If the answer is no to either of these questions something has gone wrong in your strategic planning process.
Historically, Mission Statements are created at the front-end of a strategic planning process by the owners and key players of the business. Their thought process determines what they would like their business to look like and how they want it to respond to the needs of the owners, customers and the employees a few years down the road. Putting these thoughts on paper is a worthwhile exercise because it solidifies and melds the thoughts of many individuals into a cogent statement in which all of them can believe and towards which they all can stride. However, the work done in every agency is accomplished more by the employees than by the owners. The view from the top of your personal Mt. Olympus is often shrouded by the clouds beneath you. Your expectation of the performance and direction of your agency may often not coincide with the views of the people who actually do the work everyday or with the expectations of your customers.
Since the strategies that change you business and the annual objectives that define your business' success are driven from the desire to achieve the endpoint of the Mission Statement, the failure of your employees to comprehend, agree with or live by the philosophies in your Mission Statement is very important to you. Also of critical importance is whether your customers agree with your Mission Statement.
Once you have developed your Mission Statement (and annually, after that) you must educate your employees regarding its meaning. The Mission Statement should define what your business wants to be in five years. It is updated annually to keep your goals five years in front of you (but strategically achievable). Both you and your employees must agree that the long term strategies and the annual objectives "fits" the Mission Statement. The more they understand of the mission of your business, the better your employees will be able to follow it. The last thing you want to hear is your clients tell you is that the service levels outlined in a Strategic Mission Statement are not followed in daily practice by your employees.
Elsewhere in this newsletter is an article on Customer Satisfaction Surveys. A Customer Satisfaction Survey is an excellent vehicle to test your Mission Statement on your customers. If you want to know a) does the Mission Statement describe your company, and b) do your customer's feel that the Mission Statement is a worthwhile long range goal for your business, ASK THEM! What will you do if your goals for your business are not important to your customers? If you include your customers in the critique a re-creation of your Mission Statement you will have found the key to success - find out what the customer wants and give to him.
Yes, the business is yours. You have the right to move it in whatever direction you want. However, intelligent insurance agents with their eyes on long term success will listen to their customers in the creation of their own Mission Statements and will make certain that their employees understand and adhere.