In a world marked by economic exchanges, companies that are driven by a cause above financial results are “rara avis”. In business language, these are identified as “purpose-driven companies”.
For the people of these companies, the purpose is needed to validate the cause they support through their work, it means to do something meaningful, to get involved so that the result of their work makes a difference outside the economic boundaries of the company.
Becoming such a company is a long way, sprinkled with much skepticism by “top executives”, accustomed to focusing on generating economic value and too little on creating a work environment inspired by aspirational causes.
Usually, when “top executives” begin to embrace the idea of connecting people in the organization with “purpose”, it happens in a time of crisis, when they are forced to think of new ways to motivate employees and increase their performance. At that time, the relationship between the employee and the company is strictly transactional. For a certain amount of money, the employee delivers a certain amount of work. When the employee does not perform, the company comes with incentives or a control system to counteract this situation.
Of course, the healthiest thing is not to get to this point, and the organization should build a thorough, step-by-step, philosophy of doing things, focused on “purpose”.
From the experience of our projects and the studies on good practices applied in our branding industry, we have identified 6 essential steps in building a “purpose-driven” organization.
Discover the purpose
One of the myths about the idea of “purpose” says that it must be invented by a team, preferably creative, to sound uplifting. “Purpose” should not be invented. He exists wherever there is a group of people who make things move in a certain way and in a certain direction. It can be discovered in a collective creative process, and most importantly, it must inspire any important decision of the company.
Maintain the message
Having formulated a purpose does not mean anything if it does not become the central message in business actions. It is a continuous work to keep it in the attention of the organization, in every conversation, decision, problem. And the management has the responsibility to validate its authenticity by assuming it in all decision-making formulas.
Encourages people to develop in the direction of “purpose” The key element in the life of any employee is the evolution through learning. It is important that the development plan of any employee is in sync with the “purpose” of the organization. It is also important for people to be able to relate their own “purpose” to the professional life and purpose of the organization.
Turn the middle management team into “purpose” champions The power of example is important to create an organization determined to act on behalf of “purpose.” Middle management is a key element in this process and a constant source of inspiration for their teams. It is necessary for them to understand “purpose”, to make the connection between personal and professional “purpose” not only at the declarative level, but especially at the decision level.
Connect “purpose” with frontline employees
The power of the top-down example is important, but the participation of the organization as a whole makes a difference. It is the time when internal actions create tangible evidence for the members of the organization. Artifact creation not only supports the understanding of the message behind the “purpose”, but more importantly, promotes its penetration into the culture of the organization. Thus, the transformation from within begins, people become proud of the place where they contribute to their work, recruitment becomes efficient, and the percentage of resignations decreases.
Spread “purpose” with positive energy
Identifies agents of change, optimistic people, who can naturally inspire others. They are indispensable in any change in the culture of the organization. Create with them a network of “fans” of “purpose”. Involve them in the design and implementation of change processes. The more they understand the meaning of “purpose”, the more they will energize their work environment, share ideas and come up with constructive feedback from those they come in contact with.
Studies undoubtedly show the link between employees’ attachment to a cause they serve through their work and the company’s financial performance (eg “Corporate Purpose and Financial Performance”, Claudine Madras, Gartenberg, Andrea Prat, George Serafeim). “Purpose” affects a company’s financial health and competitiveness. When people find meaning in their work, they unhesitatingly dedicate their energy and dedication to their service, progress, contribute more and better.