I was attending a conference where a financial services institution was doing their big reveal of their company’s purpose. The organization’s head office team alongside a few external consultants had spent 18 months crafting, curating, and testing out their purpose statement. All their hard work had paid off as they stood on stage announcing the most important eight words they were declaring the company was going to stand behind.
The presentation was inspiring, video reel emotional, and the presenters received a positive applause from the audience. Then they opened the floor to questions. One leader raised his hand and asked a critical question: “How will we get our teams to adopt this purpose?” To which the presenter responded, “Our CEO is adopting it and for that reason you and your team will too.” What? Just because the CEO has, and you had a rah-rah presentation, and it gets posted on the company website and in marketing materials, doesn’t mean you or your team will ‘buy in’ to the corporate purpose.
A McKinsey & Company study (Help your employees find purpose – or watch them leave) published in 2021, revealed that “employees at all levels in the organization say they want purpose in their lives.” In addition, the study disclosed that 70% of employees surveyed said their purpose is largely derived through their work. When these same employees were asked if they received purpose from their work, sadly only 15% of frontline managers and frontline employees agreed.
There is work to be done. The good news is that organizations are investing time, energy, and money in getting clear on defining their purpose. However, getting their teams to embody and live out this purpose is the current challenge they are facing.
What can you do? How can you adopt and incorporate your company’s purpose and why should you?
There’s a good chance you chose to work at your company because of the vision, values, and purpose they aim to represent. You get to use the work you do for your company as a vehicle to live out your purpose, as an extension of your own values, and as an environment in which you express and experience it.
Here are three steps you can take to acclimate your company’s purpose to your own:
- Internalize: Reflect on your company’s purpose and connect it to your personal purpose. How does it relate? How does it allow you to practice living out your purpose? For example, let’s say your company’s purpose is “to promote health and prosperity to all clients.” Then, let’s say you’ve seen firsthand the challenges entrepreneurs face in managing cash flow, growing in a new segment, and weathering a market downturn in a recession. This is something near and dear to your heart that you want to help others manage better or avoid the harsh consequences certain decisions may lead to. Therefore, your role as their Relationship Manager is to help them maintain healthy cash reserves for unforeseen events so that they can build a prosperous and successful future.
- Personalize: Next you need to personalize your company’s purpose by connecting it to your Brilliant Difference. How do you specifically help your clients? What do you do best and differently? What result do you deliver? Continuing with our Relationship Manager example above, let’s say his Brilliant Difference Signature is Pragmatic Problem Solving. Using Pragmatic Problem Solving he helps his clients ‘promote health and prosperity’ by providing practical, step by step financial plans. His clients invite him to their annual strategy meetings so that he has an insider view of their business. His clients are visionary, creative entrepreneurs, and they appreciate his ability to get into the weeds to determine how what they are dreaming up can be made possible.
- Actualize: Finally, having a purpose and living it are two very different things. You bring your purpose to life through your daily actions and interactions. What will you do to demonstrate your purpose? How will you show up? What will you do? In our Relationship Manager example, he completes a financial well-being health check annually with all his clients. All these annual financial health check meetings are booked three months in advance, giving his team and his client ample time to prepare and to contemplate key learnings from the past year. He is bringing Pragmatic Problem Solving to life while supporting his company’s purpose “to promote health and prosperity to all clients.”
Now it’s over to you:
Are you excited to put this into practice? Are you curious as to how you can use purpose to improve results, build stronger relationships, and create more meaning in your work?
I’d love to hear from you. Email (firstname.lastname@example.org) me your questions and comments.