We all know the importance of purpose when it comes to our personal lives. Without it, we tend to get bored, depressed and anxious. It turns out, the same is true of organisations. Without purpose, they flounder. By contrast, those with a clear cause get all of their employees on board, uniting towards the greater good. The knock-on benefits of that are huge. A clear purpose breeds a healthy company.
So, why does my company exist?
The million-dollar question. When answering it, businesses often fall into the trap of answering ‘what’ they do, or ‘how’ they do it. ‘Why’ never comes into it – and yet this is where a company’s superpower lies. Brands and businesses that we aspire to all lead with the why. Their employees unite in creating value for others. Because purpose is about giving rather than getting.
Working out your company’s purpose statement means articulating your ‘why.’ The statement should include two elements, your company’s contribution and your company’s impact. Take the example of a purpose statement below.
‘To design on and offline experiences to help change the way people think, behave and perform in their roles. So that we help organisations activate their people, so they achieve their ambitions and create a positive impact.’
The first sentence clarifies the contribution, while the second sums up the impact. Once you’ve perfected your purpose statement, these two elements will act like a filter, ensuring all the decisions you make ensure you’re acting with purpose.
I know our purpose, does everybody else?
Once your purpose is crystal clear, it’s time to make sure all of your colleagues can articulate it. Can they link what they do on a daily basis to the company purpose? If the answer is yes, you’re winning. Employees are generally proud to play a part in a company that has a clear cause.
Purpose is synonymous with a company’s culture. Culture is often described as the ‘way we do things around here,’ but it could just as easily be the ‘why we do things around here.’ It drips down from the purpose and should be the cornerstone of an organisation.
There’s no fast track to culture. You cannot simply claim to be ‘passionate’ or ‘innovative.’ Instilling purpose in others takes a lot more than motivational talks or mission statements. Every investment, decision and meeting should be guided by your overarching purpose. Hang everything off it. Your culture will follow.
How does our culture affect what we do?
You can’t see culture, but you can feel when it’s not right. Culture is not the funky office, it’s not the slide or the free beer fridge.
Culture is what happens when nobody is looking. It’s the day to day decisions and behaviours - they have to be consistent and they should feed in from your purpose. Trust comes from that consistency. And trust binds teams together, creating a collected sense of responsibility and accountability.
Everybody contributes, everybody pulls in the same direction with the same goal. That’s much better than everybody operating in silos or individually.
An activated purpose will bring you four major benefits. Firstly, your employees will take pride in what they do. Secondly, it will unlock the extra energy required to ensure greater returns. Thirdly, it will make everyone more agile, and finally, an activated purpose creates camaraderie – powerful bonds that lead to better performances and lower staff turnover.
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