Last week I was fortunate enough to be a guest speaker at the industry-renowned HRD Summit 2018 in Birmingham. Every year this conference attracts hundreds of experts from the HR sector, and there’s always an incredibly diverse line-up of speakers - and every year there’s also an unofficial theme that dominates the discussions.
This year’s unofficial theme was purpose! In today’s new world of work, purpose has become centre stage as an enabler for attracting, engaging and retaining employees. It’s a proven driver for increasing productivity, which is one of the biggest challenges facing many organisations, and certainly for the UK economy.
In my presentation, I spoke about how we can help make the link between your organisational purpose and the purpose of your employees in order to generate success. Here’s some of my main pointers:
Your employees want a purpose.
Employees want more from the workplace than they did in decades past. A decent salary and benefits package – of course! The opportunity to learn from new experiences – absolutely! A diverse environment where they’re surrounded by likeminded (but not closeminded) individuals – definitely! And now the challenge is to provide a sense of purpose to employees.
Why should organisational leaders, already faced with many challenges, bother with purpose? In today’s fast-paced and chaotic environment, change and transformation are a given – but organisations that have a strong sense of purpose and are able to articulate what that purpose is, are better positioned to navigate successfully in this turbulent new world of work.
Organisations that are able to define their purpose, and help employees engage with it, are more likely to be successful. According to Korn Ferry, purpose-driven organisations experience a compound annual growth of 9.45%, compared to a growth of only 2.4% for organisations without purpose.
And according to a Gallup study, organisations in the top quartile of employee engagement outperform bottom-quartile units by 10% on customer ratings, 22% in profitability, and 21% in productivity.
Creating a connection.
Organisations are complex, multi-dimensional entities that can become inward focused and, as a result, straight-jacket their employees, but creating a simple, direct message that cuts through the corporate jargon and frankly states the reason why you exist ignites a spark in people’s minds – it’s your chance to form a genuine connection with your people.
This statement needs to be aspirational and captivating in nature to fire up people’s imagination. It needs to focus on the bigger picture rather than short-term products or business objectives. It needs to be humanistic, but above all else, it needs to be honest and authentic.
While this statement has the potential to create a strong connection with people, they will only engage with it if they can actually see it’s embedded within your organisation. You need to demonstrate how your purpose directly impacts every decision you make. If not, it will become just another organisational initiative doomed for failure.
Injecting purpose into your teams.
How will your purpose statement influence how you create, shape and develop teams within your organisation to deliver their goals?
Teams are made up of people with skills, attributes and mindset. By helping teams within your organisation define their purpose (the reason why they exist), and by enabling its members to connect that purpose with their own personal values and beliefs, you create a passion and desire. You can help them to determine what it is they need to be great at, and how they can go about delivering.
Having defined the why, what and how, you’ll know what skills and mindset are required for success. This means you’ll be able to select the right people and focus your development activities on the areas that will make the biggest difference.
For example, we recently worked with Brunel University London to help its newly-formed Information Services department develop a purpose and create a roadmap for the future. The university’s Information Services department is currently made up of numerous pre-existing teams, none of which were previously connected in any way whatsoever, and therefore, they had very little sense of the role their team played in achieving the organisation’s overall strategy or goals.
We helped this freshly-formed department better understand their new collaborative purpose (i.e. why they exist). Then we worked with them to establish how to go about achieving that purpose, as well as the required attributes, skills and mindset they’ll need to succeed. This helped them realise their overall purpose as a team, pinpointing where synergies could be found and where actions could be implemented to form a joined-up service.
With a strong understanding of your organisation’s purpose, and the skills and mindset of your existing employees, you’re well-placed to create a more engaged and productive workforce, which in turn, will make it far more likely for your organisation to achieve sustainable success.
For more insights or advice on purpose please contact Tim Drake on: firstname.lastname@example.org