Part 2: Why Mission Matters
Great Project Management is Not Enough
- Part 2: Why Mission Matters -
We have a mission as an organization. It is our purpose. It’s why we exist. The best ones attract, inspire, and guide our actions.
We have a mission as individuals as well. Our mission is more about our “who” than our “why”, and it evolves over time.
To maintain success in a marketplace with greater competition, more intensive procurement, higher costs, and increasingly lower fees – and to better position our firms for the future – top leaders and organizations are leveraging the power of mission.
Leveraging the power of mission will take on even greater importance as we work through and beyond the COVID-19 crisis and our changing times.
“Leveraging the power of mission will take on even greater importance as we work through and beyond the COVID-19 crisis and our changing times.”
–Peter C. Atherton
Something to Believe In
Our organization’s mission statement connects us to others. It articulates the impact we want to have through our work and beyond.
When designed well, it is a perfect leadership “master plan” to help establish our brand and culture, and set targets that motivate us to accomplish great things and navigate challenging times.
“Designed well, our mission is a perfect leadership ‘master plan’ to help establish our brand and culture, and set targets that motivate us to accomplish great things and navigate challenging times.”
–Peter C. Atherton
To do so, our mission must be focused on a positive and resilient “just cause” in service to others, and one that all of our employees – present and future – would be willing to believe in and sacrifice for.
Becoming a Firm of Choice
As an industry, we have become pretty good at aligning our mission with our clients’.
Our business development and client relationship management systems are advanced. They focus on building relationships and understanding issues, desires, goals, opportunities, and constraints well before we begin work on a deliverable.
We strategically identify, qualify, and develop, and then shift additional effort into the proposal, selection, and contracting processes over the course of months, and even years, to convince them we are the firm of choice. Most of us would agree that this is appropriate – and that even more is needed.
Purposely and strategically engaging with clients up-front on how best to solve their problems and advance their cause works. It also builds affinity and loyalty.
Imagine if we designed and executed our internal employee engagement, development, and management systems with the same level of care, intensity, and investment?
Would that be enough to become and remain the firm of choice for our best employees?
Dealing with Our Biggest Challenge
Throughout our industry, there is a growing chasm between “what it takes to be successful” using traditional means and metrics and the desire employees have today to win at both work and life.
This separation is leading to burnout and exhaustion, lower profits, less engagement and retention, and an erosion of workplace culture. This needs to be a leadership’s biggest priority (and a part of your mission!) – even if some on the team have not yet fully embraced the realities.
A well-designed mission is especially powerful during and following challenging times when talent has the choice to step away… and is doing so in increasing numbers.
“A well-designed mission is especially powerful during and following challenging times when talent has the choice to step away.”
–Peter C. Atherton
A Common Purpose
We can all agree that we would like to break the cycle of burnout and disengagement and have projects with larger fees and longer schedules. How to do this in our current state can be a challenge.
To progress, we need a shift in leadership mindset and new investments to engage and develop our talent in ways deeper than our clients.
On the client-side, we engage to “serve a purpose”, to design a solution to solve one or more of their problems.
On the talent-side, “serving a purpose” is more akin to having a “job”, to put food on the table or pay the mortgage. This won’t generate the drive and commitment needed to get out of our current cycle.
To advance, we need our talent to “find purpose” and build careers in the work we do. Fortunately, from a work perspective, much of what we do in the engineering, architecture, and construction industry is pretty amazing if we take the time to think about and express it. However, designing our work environments to best develop and retain our talent will take more effort.
As our talent evolves in terms of their interests and passions, we also need to co-create ways to align our work with their “life purpose”, their ultimate mission, if we hope to retain, fully engage, and even help fulfill them. Work projects alone will never be enough.
“Work projects alone will never be enough to fully engage top talent.”
–Peter C. Atherton
5 Steps to Take
To leverage the power of mission, we can begin with these 5 steps:
- Revisit your firm’s mission. Does it attract and inspire? Does it advance both sides of the “Talent-Client” equation? Is it able to guide us to where we want to be? Is it a brand we want to be associated with as both leaders and employees?
- Revisit your mindset toward talent. Have you considered the mission of your employees? Do you know the “purpose” our work serves in their lives? Do you have a specific plan to optimize and advance it?
- Reimagine your “employee development” and “employee relationship management” systems to maximize growth and engagement.
- Redesign your work, performance, and incentive systems around our mission to make it happen.
- Invest in and celebrate great project management and execution as the key to realizing your mission and advancing your firm and industry.
Even before COVID-19, the new era and a desire for better was forcing major change in the engineering, architecture, and construction industry.
Despite our great work and vital role, we need to adapt as leaders and organizations if we want to attract, inspire, and remain relevant.
Our mission must be more than website text or words on the wall. Our mission must have the power to produce wins for our clients, our talent, our organizations, and beyond.
It’s not only possible, it’s essential for our future viability.
You can also check out Part 1 of this series “Why We Must Focus More On Our People”.
In addition, you can check out “Why Your Mission, Vision, and Values Matter” as part of a special two-part episode of the AEC Industry’s first-ever “Podstorm” here: Why Your Mission, Vision, and Values Matter (in less than 20 minutes)
To your winning,
PS – Ready to enhance your leadership, management, employee engagement, and simultaneously increase your impact by design? Check out our Fast Start Programs.
PSS – Click HERE… and then just sit back and listen to one of the most important chapters in “Reversing Burnout” for FREE. Learn more about the realities of work and life today and how you can reverse and avoid the “Burnout-Disengagement Cycle”.
Check out too the AEC Leadership Today Podcast designed exclusively for leaders who want to stay relevant and effective and help their firms grow and prosper during all times >> HERE!
About the Author
Peter C. Atherton, P.E. is an AEC industry insider with over 30 years of experience, having spent more than 24 as a successful professional civil engineer, principal, major owner, and member of the board of directors for high-achieving firms. Pete is now the President and Founder of ActionsProve, LLC, author of “Reversing Burnout. How to Immediately Engage Top Talent and Grow! A Blueprint for Professionals and Business Owners”, and the creator of the I.M.P.A.C.T. process.
Pete is also the host of The AEC Leadership Today Podcast and leads The AEC Leadership Mastermind.
Pete works with AEC firms to grow and advance their success through modern and new era focused strategic planning, executive coaching, leadership and management team development, performance-based employee engagement, and corporate impact design. Connect with him through the contact link below.