Do you believe as a business owner that you have the responsibility and opportunity to make the world a better place through your business?
Do you believe that profit is good and should be driven by a higher purpose?
It is not WHAT you do, it is WHY you do it that creates a purpose-driven life and a purpose-driven organization. Aligning the two is the most potent step for long-lasting success. HOW it is accomplished is easily the most sought-after piece to this puzzle.
In today’s business conversations the topic of purpose is widely accepted as a viable reason for a healthy bottom line, moral consciousness, motivated employees, responsible decision making for environmental sustainability, happy clients, long-term profitability and improved leadership. Purpose Driven Companies Evolve Faster Than Others
The Energy Project, partnered with the Harvard Business Review and surveyed more than 12,000 mostly white-collar employees across a broad range of companies and industries, to find out why people are dissatisfied with their jobs. Results showed that lack of purpose is one of the key reasons people are disengaged; “Put simply, the way people feel at work profoundly influences how they perform.”
Lack of purpose erodes morale, decreases productivity, and increases turnover. Conversely, Schwartz and Porath discovered (from the Energy Project), “Employees who derive meaning and significance from their work were more than three times as likely to stay with their organizations — the highest single impact of any variable. These employees also reported 1.7 times higher job satisfaction and they were 1.4 times more engaged at work” (Porath & Schwartz, 2014).
Purpose drives engagement, which increases retention. Reid Hoffman, co-founder of LinkedIn, “Companies that understand the increasing emphasis of purpose in today’s professional landscape improve their ability to attract such employees and also their ability to retain them for longer periods of time.”
It’s stunning to think, of all the tools available to leaders for improving performance and retention, purpose provides the highest gain, yet has one of the lowest costs.
Mistakes Organizations Make Using Purpose
A great purpose captures aspiration and is central to the revenue model. People crave purpose, yet they’re often confused about how to get started. Here are the four most common mistakes:
- Writing a vague purpose
“We make a difference” is not a purpose statement. Your purpose must be specific. HOW do you make a difference? How are your customers improved from doing business with you? How does that tie to every single job in your organization? What kinds of behaviors demonstrate working with purpose?
- Equating purpose with philanthropy
Social responsibility is important, but it’s not an organizational purpose. Purpose is not a giveback. Be a good, or ideally great, corporate citizen, focus on the triple bottom line. But your purpose does not sit on the other side of the table from profit. Your purpose must sit squarely in the center of your commercial model. The products you sell must add value to customers. If you are living your purpose and adding value to customers, you should be financially rewarded.
- Making purpose a project
Yes, you will need a team to get the ball rolling on creating a purpose-driven organizational culture. But, unlike many initiatives, purpose is not a one and done project. It’s a way of thinking and behaving that will extend far beyond, and if done right, exist long after your current base of employees jumpstarts it. “(Source: Lisa Earl McLeod newsletter)
- Ignoring purpose for mission
Organizations need both. Purpose is values-based; it is a description of the leader’s reason for being, that establishes the business’s reason for being. Purpose grows deeper as the business matures and members join. Mission is the measurable goals that achieve the Vision. Mission changes as the long-term goals of the Vision are achieved. Mission has a timeline; Purpose is forever. (Source: FarVision Realizing Optimum).
- Writing a vague purpose
FarVision President Kiki McShane relates the following story: “I was engaged with a business owner who struggled with her feeling that something seemed to be missing in her profitable, fast-paced company. They attracted good people, they gave back, were growing and were heralded as entrepreneurs. In further conversations, I learned there was not a cultural passion for the business and she often felt alone when there was a challenge.
The reason for this is that the company had no defined “reason for being”, no cultural purpose designed by the Leaders of the Company they could point to, and rally around, during good times and bad, to inspire their work. They needed to know they were working towards something bigger than themselves.
The symptoms were typical of an organization making all four of the mentioned most common purpose mistakes. The solution to developing the purpose with the founder has a simple but not easy first step; the founder must be willing to be vulnerable. First by being honest with herself (why did I found this company and why is it important to me?) and then by being honest with her members (why do you want to work here instead of somewhere else? Are you aligned with my values and the reason this business exists?).”
FarVision’s “Realizing Optimum” is designed to respond to those special leaders and companies who understand the value of working for a higher purpose. Our proprietary process that answers the question HOW to create a purpose-driven organization is simple, but not always easy. The rewards are significant for those individuals willing to be open to new ways of learning and functioning. Contact us today for an evaluation session to see if we are a good fit.
You may find it is the most important decision you’ve ever made.