A culture with purpose doesn’t set and forget all the hard work that got it there in the first place. On the contrary, it continues to build and report on what it has established. Without that impetus, purpose quickly gives way to task and the commitment to deliver change is overtaken by the motivation to just make budget. If you need to convince others in your organisation that the momentum and energy required to stay the course is indeed worth it, consider these observations from Deloitte’s Culture of Purpose 2013 Report.
A strong sense of purpose contributes to long term success (providing of course that sense of purpose is sustained). Cultures with purpose report that their employees are more likely to perform well and experience strong financial performance. They also have a distinct brand, a clearly defined values and belief system, greater customer satisfaction and better employee satisfaction. Fuelling purpose fuels performance.
Opportunities being missed
However, the Deloitte report also highlights that many companies are missing opportunities to integrate purpose-building activities into their core business strategies and operations. I suspect that’s because purpose has been designated as an HR or cultural issue rather than as a guiding principle for every aspect of corporate behaviour.
The need to keep reinforcing and communicating purpose also seems to be being missed. Certainly the Deloitte report would indicate a disparity between how executives believe purpose is communicated and instilled and how employees believe it is being communicated and acted upon on a day to day basis.
Fuelling purpose fuels performance.
Having a positive impact on the lives of employees was seen by staff as a vital component of demonstrating good corporate citizenship. Cultures with purpose were judged on their ability to deliver first to their own people rather than the differences they made beyond their walls.
John Baldoni makes the case well in this article in Forbes: “Purposeful organizations,” he says, “create an atmosphere of open exchange. People know what is expected of them because management is clear in its objectives … People feel connected because they know they are contributing not simply in their function – finance, marketing, logistics, etc. – but to the success of the whole enterprise. When you work in a purposeful organization you know how what you do contributes to the organization’s ability to deliver on its mission.”
With that in mind, here are eight ways your organisation can continue the journey.
8 ways to stay purposeful
- Frame everything you do, and aspire to achieve, in terms of how it helps the organisation, and the people within the organisation, advance the purpose. Cause and effect, literally. “This initiative will help [our brand] achieve [our purpose] by …” If you can’t complete that simple sentence then the idea/initiative is off-purpose.
- Continue to communicate why your organisation is pursuing the purpose that it is, why it chose to pursue that goal in the first place and how doing so aligns with the company’s core business, values and beliefs.
- Show how pursuit of the purpose will positively affect people in the workplace. Align it to things like how you train and develop people, the opportunities you offer them, the support you provide for them to work in the community and so on.
- Make the purpose a key part of induction so that new people understand from the get-go what they are joining and what they are expected to contribute to.
- Celebrate and highlight those people who contribute most successfully to the purpose. Make them role-models for the commitment that’s expected.
- Make contribution to purpose part of your performance reviews.
- Invest in your purpose, don’t just talk about it. Take the time, and make the resources available, to advance your organisation’s progress towards its greatest goal.
- Report your progress towards your purpose openly and honestly both internally and to external stakeholders and agencies.