In the closing seconds of a tight basketball game, a smart coach will huddle with his players and draw up a play designed to result in a winning shot.
However, if a single teammate is disengaged, the play can go wrong, and the team falls short of victory.
Businesses have something in common with that basketball team.
A business needs a purpose, and each employee needs to be inspired by—and contributing to—that purpose.
If everyone in an organization feels good about the work they do and is committed to the organization’s purpose, then you’re likely to see good results. But if workers aren’t engaged, their productivity suffers and the company as a whole pays the price.
For years, many companies chased quarterly earnings and ignored any overarching purpose beyond keeping shareholders happy. But to survive and thrive in today’s world, businesses need to think about more than just “shareholder value.”
Company leaders need to manage from the perspective of stakeholder value. Stakeholders include everyone who impacts the company or is impacted by it, from customers to suppliers to communities to employees.
Imagine if you could get employees to look at their jobs as something with a purpose that goes beyond just earning a paycheck. That purposeful orientation could result in a more engaged workforce, better productivity, and perhaps less turnover.
In fact, studies have shown that especially millennials seek purpose in their jobs and are quick to switch employers if they don’t find it.
Numerous companies have developed statements to define their purposes. Google wants to “organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful.” Roche, a biotech company, states its purpose as: “Doing now what patients need next.”
Once a company defines its purpose, how does it get employee buy-in? By doing three things.
3 things to do to show you’re sincere about the company’s purpose
1) It starts at the top.
It’s not enough that employees find the purpose inspiring. The leader of the company must also be authentically inspired and inspiring. He or she has to get the entire management team enthusiastically on board.
You don’t lead by pointing and telling people some place to go. You lead by going to that place and making a case. ~Ken Kesey
2) Make sure the purpose is clear and meaningful.
Company leaders must find a common purpose that’s broad enough to be meaningful and important to employees. In the absence of a clear organizational purpose, people focus on their individual goals and may perceive different purposes for the same organization.
Outstanding leaders go out of their way to boost the self-esteem of their personnel. If people believe in themselves, it’s amazing what they can accomplish. ~Sam Walton
3) Discard what doesn’t fit.
Identify company activities that aren’t aligned with the purpose and remove or transform them.
You cannot expect your team to rise above your example. ~Orrin Woodward
Purpose isn’t an idea that only lives in a strategic plan or on a website. It lives in the daily operation of a business and in the ongoing communications with stakeholders. And it lives as the internal compass for keeping a complicated organization with many competing interests on course.
Today’s guest contributor is Paul Ratoff, author, management consultant, and president of Strategy Development Group Inc.
Image credit: Pixabay