Culture Development

Difference Between Vision and Mission Statements

Just like people have goals, companies also need clear direction and a plan to reach their objectives. Employees must feel united to work well together towards the company’s business goals. Mission and vision statements capture these important aspects of successful companies.

You might be wondering: What is a vision statement, exactly? And how does it differ from a mission statement? The short answer is: A vision statement looks ahead to and takes into account what the company wants to become in the future. A mission statement, on the other hand, focuses on what the company is doing right now to achieve its common goals.

It’s easy to get these two types of statements mixed up, but don’t worry — we’ll be going over the differences between vision and mission statements in detail below!

Women Walking in an Office Setting 

What is a Mission Statement?

A mission statement sums up what an organization is all about — its main purpose, focus, and goals. It’s a short description that explains what the organization does and what it wants to achieve. This statement shapes how employees work every day and shows how each person contributes to the organization’s overall mission.

In other words, a company’s mission statement is what drives the company. It not only describes what the company does but also lays out its core values in a way that’s easy to understand. This sense of clarity helps everyone understand what they’re working toward and how to get there. A good mission statement inspires the team to keep moving forward together.

When creating a mission statement, you should ask questions like: “What do we do?”,  “Who do we help?” and “How do we help them?” Once you’re able to determine the answers to these questions, you’ll be able to form your mission statement. Usually, company mission statements start with phrases like “We provide…” or “We are dedicated to…”. Your company’s mission statement can also set standards for how well employees perform at their jobs.

What is a Vision Statement?

A vision statement is a summary of what an organization hopes to achieve and the impact it wants to make. It guides the employees in the organization and helps them make decisions that push the organization in the right direction. The vision statement is a clear picture of what the organization wants to accomplish and what the world will be like when it achieves its goals.

This statement sets the company’s course for the future. It focuses on the big picture and what the organization wants to become. When creating a vision statement, you should ask questions like: “What do we want the company to achieve?”,  “What positive change are we making?” and “Who are we inspiring?”

A vision statement looks ahead and illustrates what the company values. It’s often used for public relations. Vision statements usually stay the same because they represent the company’s broader goals. Every small step the organization takes is aimed at reaching this vision. Vision statements are written as if they’re already happening, even though they’re about the future of the organization.

What is the Difference Between Vision and Mission Statements?

The main difference between mission and vision statements is the time frame they focus on. A mission statement talks about what the organization is doing right now, while a vision statement describes the ultimate goal the organization wants to achieve in the long run. In simple terms, the mission is about what and how, and the vision is about why.

Mission statements are flexible and will usually change as the company’s needs change. Employees should be able to use the company’s mission statement as a guide, of sorts while working toward their goals. Since employees’ actions are guided by the mission statement, it needs to adapt to changes in the company.

On the other hand, a company’s vision statement is a long-term goal that might be rather challenging to achieve. It doesn’t directly influence employees’ daily tasks, however, it does give employees an idea of what the company hopes to achieve together in the future. Even though companies sometimes use mission and vision statements interchangeably, it’s important to have both.

Let’s take a closer look at some of the reasons why vision and mission statements are important below:

Whiteboard with Post Its Surrounding Company Values

Focus and company direction

Both a vision statement and a mission statement play important roles in guiding an organization toward success. Although these statements focus on different time frames, they’re meant to help everyone in the organization understand where they’re headed and what they’re working towards. When everyone is on the same page about the company’s goals, it makes the team more productive as a whole.

Employee motivation

Having both a powerful company vision statement and a strong mission statement can motivate your employees to work well together. The vision statement, in particular, can help give employees a sense of purpose. Wielded with this sense of purpose, they’ll be able to work with enthusiasm and help the company thrive.

Clear communication and shared understanding

When an organization has a clear and thoughtful vision and mission statement, it tells everyone — employees, external stakeholders, and customers alike — what the organization values. These statements show what the organization is trying to accomplish, both in the short term and in the long run.

Communicating with your employees about the company’s vision and mission statements frequently is a great way to make sure that everyone is on the same page about the organization’s identity and goals. This is a high-performance company culture in action. Are you wondering how to write great vision and mission statements? That’s what we’ll be talking about next, so don’t go anywhere!

How to Write a Mission Statement

Your mission statement doesn’t need to be long. At its core, it should answer three questions:

  • What does your company offer customers? (Your purpose)
  • Who are your customers? (Your audience)
  • What sets you apart from competitors? (Your uniqueness)

Grab a pen and jot down short answers to each question. To give you an example, if you’re in a software company that matches people with their dream jobs, your answers might look a bit like this:

  • Purpose: Provide an easy job-finding solution.
  • Audience: Young professionals seeking direction.
  • Uniqueness: Our patented personality assessments.

The next step is to piece your mission statement together. Mix and match your answers, and try out different combinations until you find a few options you like. Don’t worry if it takes a few tries to get it right — experimentation is key.

Remember, your mission statement represents your whole company, so it’s a good idea to get feedback from others, too. Ask your teammates, leaders, and customers for their thoughts. Which statement resonates most with people? What do your customers think is missing? Use their feedback to refine your statement until it hits the mark.

How to Write a Vision Statement

Now, let’s craft your vision statement. You may not be able to predict the future, but you can still envision the future of your organization. That’s what the vision statement is all about! Let’s break the process of writing a vision statement down into three steps.

Step 1: Picture success

Start by understanding the impact of your product or service. How does it improve people’s lives? Think big — what’s the outcome of using your product or service?

Step 2: Define success

Think about where you want your organization to be in five or ten years. Write down all of your ambitious goals — this is your chance to dream big!

Step 3: Craft your vision

Now, combine these elements into a vision statement. Mix and match phrases until you find something that works. It may take some time and experimentation, but that’s not a bad thing!

The Bottom Line

Your company’s mission statement should explain what your company does now. The vision statement, on the other hand, should explain how your company wants to grow and improve in the future. Although some people use these two types of statements interchangeably, they’re quite different — and they’re both important.

You should think of your vision and mission statements as the core of your company. Make sure that they’re written in a clear, easy-to-understand way. Remember, the most important thing is making sure that everyone is on the same page when it comes to your vision and mission statements.

Build Your Culture With Culture Partners

Now that you’ve learned about the differences between vision and mission statements (as well as how to navigate the nuances of vision and mission in your organization), you’re ready to start improving your company’s culture. If you feel like your company’s culture has room to grow, you’re not alone. You’ve also come to the right place!

By working with Culture Partners, you’ll be able to unlock the secret to motivating your employees to step up and make a real difference. Feel free to schedule a complimentary consultation with one of our highly experienced senior partners. Whether you want to bounce your ideas off of us or talk tips for culture change, we’ve got you covered!

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