Organizational Excellence: Does the Culture Support the Mission?

Organizational Excellence: Does the Culture Support the Mission? 950 634 C-Suite Network

by Christy M. Pruitt-Haynes


I think you would agree that excellence is the goal for most individuals and organizations, but moving toward it is often a lengthy process full of ups and downs. While there may not be a one size fits all” path to excellence, there are five traits excellent organizations share. Once you implement these traits, your company will be well on its way to being an Excellent Organization!

We discussed the importance of having a well-defined, accurately communicated, and universally accepted mission statement, but every now and then you’ll find some employees who know the mission but act in direct opposition to it. Why would they do that?
It’s simple: If the organization’s recognition and reward systems don’t match its stated mission, employees will lean toward the behaviors that are rewarded (the culture), as opposed to the desired behaviors the mission would suggest.

That brings us to the second trait: The culture of the organization must support the mission.
Think of an organization that you believe is excellent — maybe an airline, an Internet search engine or a certain theme park some would consider the happiest place on Earth. When you think of those companies, you can describe their cultures. You know who they are, what they are working toward and that their internal operations support their external goals.

As an example, many mission statements include words like “innovation” and “creativity,” but if there is a problem — and someone offers a new and slightly out-of-the-box idea — how should their manager respond? If the organization truly supports innovation, their idea should be welcomed, examined  and encouraged. But, if their manager looks at them like they have two heads and tells them that they have obviously forgotten where they work, what will that employee do the next time they have an idea? Likely, they will keep it to themselves, and other employees will learn from their “mistake.”

That company has missed another opportunity to achieve mission statement excellence. Employees will wonder if they should do what the paper says (mission) or do what the personality says (culture). An organization’s culture is a driving force in helping employees decide what to do.  Your employees’ day-to-day decisions will help determine if your organization will experience excellence or hover in mediocre land.

How do you make sure your organization isn’t sending mixed messages? How do you ensure your employees see a clear picture of what is expected of them so they can make decisions and perform accordingly? How do you make sure your culture matches your mission?
There are a number of ways to do so, such as:

  • Make sure employee behavior that is rewarded is the same behavior your mission statement supports.
  • Make sure promotions and bonuses are based not only on doing a great job, but doing it in a way that promotes your culture.
  • Routinely engage in culture-building activities, such as “Spirit Week” if you have a fun and slightly playful culture; lunchtime team trivia games if your culture is one of collaboration; or an employee graffiti wall where the staff can draw or whiteboard ideas, concepts and random thoughts to share with the rest of the company, if your culture is one of innovation and creativity.
  • Ask as many “why?” questions as you do “what?” questions

At some point, we’ve all heard someone say, “Do what I say, not what I do.” Truly excellent organizations do both. All members of the organization understand the stated rules (mission statement) as well as the unstated, but vitally important norms (culture).

While we prepare to discuss the final three traits of Excellent Organizations, please share some of your mission statement and company culture stories. What experiences have you had with highly successful, well-understood missions and supportive cultures? What downsides have you noticed when either the mission isn’t clear or your culture works against your stated goals? How do you believe company culture influences employee behavior?

Comment below and be sure to read through what others have shared.

*Click Here for Part 1 of Christy M. Pruitt-Haynes’ Organizational Excellence series

Christy Pruitt-HaynesChristy M. Pruitt-Haynes, SPHR, founder of CORE Consulting, is a facilitator, trainer, coach, catalyst, speaker and an expert in Human Resources and Organizational Development. A consultant and strategic partner with businesses, major corporations, universities, community groups, charitable organizations and independent professionals, she earned her Master of Science (M.S.) degree in Human Resources Development and holds a Bachelor of Science (B.S.) degree in Personnel and Labor Relations.
Find Christy on LinkedIn and Twitter @ChristysIdeas, or contact her at