By Heidi Pozzo
There is a critical element that leaders in high performing organizations bring to the table. It is Clarity of Purpose. It is the foundation of the organization. The purpose outlines why the organization exists and the impact it will have on others. It enables people within the organization to focus and become engaged. It is not enough just to know your purpose – you must be clear and consistent for it to come to life.
Organizations that have clarity of purpose and live it are increasingly attracting and retaining top talent. And it is paying off. Deloitte found that businesses that focus on purpose rather than profits tended to have higher anticipated growth potential and attract more capital as outlined in their research “Culture of Purpose — Building business confidence; driving growth 2014 core beliefs & culture survey.“
In this article, I will outline the five methods to bring the purpose of your organization to life. Whether it is telling everyone what you are about, making your purpose more than money or having people that are bought in, what you do on the inside of the company will manifest on the outside. Being consistent in the purpose and walking the talk will leave an impression on everyone your company touches. Make sure it is the one you want.
Method #1 – Tell Everyone Your Purpose
Clarity of purpose may seem easy. And for some it is. They just know in their bones what they are about and it shows in all the actions they take. They can tell you in one sentence what they are about and you get it. Clarity. For others, it takes a while to figure it out. The conversation may be long and rambling – a sign that clarity does not yet exist. Whether finding it easily or over time, clarity is essential.
You will get instant feedback about the clarity of your purpose and how well it is resonating with others. By sharing your purpose, you are explicitly telling people what to expect when doing business with your organization. And by doing so, you will learn whether people understand your purpose.
Sharing your purpose doesn’t need to be complicated. It can be through talks with local business or industry groups, conversations one on one, marketing materials, your website, articles in the newspaper, etc. However you choose to tell everyone about your purpose should be consistent.
By sharing the purpose of your organization broadly, a natural attraction starts taking place. Customers that share your sense of purpose become attracted to you. So do employees. It tells stakeholders what kind of experience to expect from you. It sets the foundation for everything you do.
Method #2 – It’s About More Than Money
People want to work for companies that are about more than just making money. They want to have a positive impact on their customers and their communities. They want to make a difference. By focusing on purpose, people become more engaged.
Businesses don’t attract and retain the best people through money. While money is a factor in deciding where to work, it is only hurdle. In other words, if you aren’t offering enough to make the job interesting, people won’t consider it. But if you are, it is only a starting point, then many other factors come into play. Again, people want to make a difference, so the job has to be one that has purpose and is about more than just making money.
Given the above, leadership needs to outline the purpose of the organization – simply, clearly and in a way that creates an emotional connection. Purpose is about more than statistics and discrete goals. It is the way it makes you feel when you know that things are better off because of the impact of being involved. And when the people within the company are excited and engaged internally, it will reflect well in all of their external interactions.
Method #3 – Alignment of Values Between The Company and The People
Companies are looking toward more than just the technical skills necessary to complete a job from its people. They are increasingly focused on hiring for fit. They are looking for alignment between the values of the person and values of the company. It requires the individual to clearly understand what is important to them. It also requires the company knows what it stands for.
Finding the source of passion in your people and making sure it aligns with the purpose of your company is critical. If someone really believes in what they are doing, it shows up as discretionary effort. That intangible that causes people to pay a little more attention, put a little more effort or a little more passion into what they are doing. And it shows up. Quality is typically higher, the customer experience is better, and employee engagement is higher.
It is a slightly different way to approach building a culture. It is the simple foundation – people have a shared view of what is important. And by doing so, it is easier to focus on the purpose of the organization.
Method #4 – Be Consistent
The purpose of an organization should not change. The tactics may. It is critical for leaders to be consistent in how they discuss the purpose of the organization internally and externally. Whether it is about building communities, or providing solutions that make every day life easier, or pick your favorite purpose, that purpose should be front and center of everything. The actions being taken by the organization should support the purpose and should be easy to understand.
By being clear and consistent, every person in the organization should know how their actions impact the larger organization and the purpose. And if they don’t, asking for clarification is not only acceptable, it is expected.
In a purpose driven organization, the purpose should be discussed on a regular, if not daily basis. Conversations should happen as part of sales meetings, business reviews, employee communications, etc. How the purpose is discussed should be consistent each time it is discussed. By discussing the purpose frequently, the message will be reinforced – as long as it is consistent.
Method #5 – Walk the Talk
People look to leadership to confirm whether the organization is really about what it says it is about. People will look to leadership for clues in words and actions of the real the purpose. If actions are consistent with words, it reinforces the authenticity of the purpose and trust in the organization. It builds trust.
But it isn’t just about leaders. People at all levels of the organization should act consistent with the purpose of the organization. Customers expect the experience that was promised by the organization through its purpose. At the end of the day, engaged employees tend to deliver on the stated purpose of the organization. They walk the talk.
A middle market manufacturer felt it was critical for every person in the organization to understand the purpose of the organization. Over the course of years, quarterly meetings were held, newsletters sent internally, and informal conversations held with leaders. In each case the purpose was discussed and eventually became commonly known by everyone internally. As the purpose became part of the fabric of the organization, the purpose was discussed externally with customers, suppliers, etc.
Eventually, the purpose migrated into the website, marketing materials and articles in industry publications. Because the purpose was consistently discussed, there was common understanding both internally and externally. Employee engagement increased, the company was rated significantly higher in customer satisfaction, and the company became recognized by peers and industry groups as a high performing organization.
Bringing Your Organization’s Purpose to Life is Achievable
By employing these five methods in your organization, you will bring your purpose to life. There is a direct correlation between having a purpose, having people in the organization that are engaged and delivering the expected results. It is a subtle difference from focusing on an outcome. By focusing on doing the right thing based on the purpose, people are bought in. They want to make a difference. And the by-product or outcome is delivering the expected experience, higher productivity and earnings.
Bringing the purpose of your organization to life can have the most significant impact on how well your organization performs – financially and non-financially. Why wait – what can you do today to bring your purpose to life?
Copyright © 2016 – Heidi Pozzo. All Rights Reserved
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Heidi Pozzo is a strategy and performance improvement consultant. She has helped transform businesses by connecting the people in the company to the strategy, resulting in significant increases in earnings and business value. To find out more about her services,
or call 360-355-7862.