Your company purpose must play a central role in providing direction
When asked what our purpose in life is, we tend to think of a calling or what we can be committed to. Some examples are being a great parent or making a contribution to your community; that is, some difference you want to make in the world. Sometimes that difference you want to make in the world requires more than yourself, so you form an organization to accomplish that purpose.
Every organization starts with a purpose, some difference it wants to make that can’t be accomplished by one person.
But having a purpose is not enough. For it to have real value to the business, it must play a central role in providing direction and impacting performance, especially with respect to employee engagement.
To achieve that requires a two- step process: First you must frame your company’s purpose so that it is meaningful and important to all of your employees. Second, you must have purpose real for them within the organizational experience.
Framing Your Purpose
For a company’s purpose to have power, it must be meaningful and important to all of your stakeholders, especially your employees. You as the founder might find it meaningful and important, but will your employees be inspired by it as well? Can your employees relate to it in their own lives — does it resonate with and inspire them?
Also, it should be important enough for them to want to take action to achieve it. There are a number of practices that help businesses restate their purpose such that it meets this meaningful and important condition. These practices are called “broadening your purpose.”
To broaden your purpose, follow these four steps.
Step 1: Identify the specific problem your business is solving that is meaningful and important to you.
Step 2: Discover what the larger desired underlying condition in the world that cannot be realized because of this specific problem.
Step 3: Frame your solution to this problem in a way that is meaningful and important to you by referring to the larger underlying condition and the specific problem you’re solving.
Step 4: Notice whether all of your stakeholders would find this purpose meaningful and important to them, especially your employees.
Sometimes, employees are not inspired by what you are up to, even after you have tried to enroll them in the difference you are making. In that case, you should consider replacing those employees with one’s that are inspired and who will inspire others. Not everyone is the right fit for your organization.
Making it Real
Having a purpose that is inspiring is not enough. To truly inspire your employees ongoing, you must make it real for them. It’s got to be more than a statement on a website or a poster on the wall. Here are a number of practices that an organization can take on to make it real for them.
First, employees need to see that all of the company’s actions are aligned with that purpose. To fulfill on a purpose, a business must do something and that something involves partners, resources including your employees, various activities, all of which cost money.
All of this in turn is used to create a certain value proposition delivered to your customers through certain channels and customer relationships generating revenue streams to sustain the entire operation. All of this doing part is called your business model. It is what the organization does to fulfill on its purpose.
Second, employees need to see that the company is communicating its purpose to other stakeholders to enlist their support in achieving their purpose.
Third, they need to understand what fulfilling that purpose looks like in the future and how they will achieve it.
Fourth, they need to see how well the company is doing towards achieving its purpose. They need to come up with a way of measuring success; not in terms of profits but in terms of achieving its purpose.
Finally, each employee must see how their actions play an important role in fulfilling the company’s purpose.
When you have common purpose that is meaningful and important to all of your employees and they can see that everyone is committed to and actively engaged in achieving that purpose, you will have harnessed the power and resources of your workforce.