Many companies prominently display their mission statements, and a few more include their vision statements. And often, these two statements overlap – to the point where increasing numbers of companies are simply conflating them into a single “mission and vision statement.” But are they really the same thing?
The answer is no – and if your company makes this mistake, it’s missing the chance to attract the best candidates.
The Mission Statement
The mission statement answers one question: “What does the business do and for whom?”
In some companies, this mission statement occupies an entire paragraph. Apple, known otherwise for streamlining its products and software, lays out its mission in 28 words: “Apple is committed to bringing the best personal computing experience to students, educators, creative professionals and consumers around the world through its innovative hardware, software and Internet offerings.” Who Apple serves (students, educators, creative professionals, consumers) and what the company does (brings the best personal computing experience through innovative hardware, software and Internet offerings) is clear.
The Vision Statement
The mission statement clarifies where the company’s “day-to-day” focus lies. The vision statement, by contrast, states where the company wants to go in the future.
A brief vision statement can offer profound impact, as long as its message is clear. For instance, Mattel’s vision statement occupies only nine words: “to be the premier toy brand – today and tomorrow.” Packed into these nine words, however, are the company’s clear focus (toys), commitment (to be “the premier toy brand”), and goals (“today and tomorrow”).
Using Your Mission and Vision for Better Hiring
For your employees, the purpose of a mission and vision statement is to help them evaluate their plans and projects in terms of the company’s larger purpose and goals. At Apple, employees and supervisors can ask whether a particular project helps offer innovative computing to one of the company’s four target groups. At Mattel, plans can be evaluated based on the question “Will this step help us stay the premier toy brand today or maintain that position in the future?”
Just as employees can use the mission and vision statements to guide their work choices, hiring managers can use them to guide their hiring. Does this candidate provide the company the best opportunity to fulfill its mission today or to build the company toward its vision? Ideally, the best candidates will do both.