Attention everyone: the business will be shut on Thursday as we’re taking out our own appendix.
The idea of a purpose-led business is now ingrained as a key driver of strong employee alignment, an attractive Employee Value Proposition and a differentiated, superior customer experience.
It’s also easy to see why many organisational leaders feel that those deep within the business are the only ones capable of defining this purpose. After all, we know our business better than anyone else. But that’s precisely where the problems begin to appear. Even if the wider employee team is canvassed, and ideally invited to participate in the process, the likelihood is that the management group overseeing the work will keep things tightly contained. Whatever purpose statement is created will be tightly tied to the existing frames of reference, and probably also closely connected to the business’ commercial goals.
But this approach simply does not work.
Sure the executive team have the best interests of the business at heart. You may also genuinely want to find something that inspires and fires up the rest of the organisation. But from the perspective of bedded within the business leadership and strongly invested in commercial outcomes, it’s almost impossible to inject the wider objectivity and challenge needed to craft a truly bold internal mission that plays to your employees’ desire for their work to have wider meaning. An emotionally-based unifying goal with the power to align everyone across your organisation regardless of seniority, tenure or other factor.
To achieve this necessitates having an external perspective. The ability to see your business both from the inside, and also from a ‘big wide world’ external viewpoint. When your employees share their work experience with friends and family, the feedback they get is based on external inputs. It’s less to do with achieving revenue goals and more with how fulfilled working there makes them feel as human beings.
As a NZ-based organisation that specialises in helping clients discover and embed a powerful internal purpose, supported by genuinely upheld and modelled behavioural standards (values!), we see first-hand how this fuels engagement, better productivity and leads directly to an enhanced customer experience.
But we’ve also seen too many circumstances where a client company has said ‘this is something that we’ll run internally, because we know our people and business best’. Then one, two, three months later, we are asked to come back into the business and help rescue a stalled, underwhelming, predictably commercialised and emotionally un-moving purpose that lacks any of the energy and transformative impact to genuinely bring the employee tribe together. To lead them to see the work they do in a different and more personalised light.
Trying to manage this sensitive, charged process on your own makes just about as much sense as conducting your own appendectomy.
If you’d like help transforming your organisation from the inside, call me now on 021 752 517.
"There is an increasing awareness that the purpose of a company has to be beyond shareholder value, and that this is not something that will cost your business but something that will enhance your business" Michael Beer, Professor Emeritus, Harvard Business School