Embedding Your Team’s Purpose

This is the last in the current Purpose series. We have delved into defining, building and co-creating your team’s purpose. In every one of these stages an external consultant can be of great assistance. Today’s newsletter is totally different. An external consultant can advise on how a mission can be constructed, how an organization’s values can be laminated above the reception desk. However for Purpose to live and breathe it is the responsibility of all and sundry. To EMBED Purpose is to enable an expression of the contribution we wish to make in order to help the world become a better place. It represents a desire to contribute to something greater than our self. It provides a platform for your organization to disrupt, flourish and grow.

Embedding Purpose is where the real cultural work begins. It needs to touch every fibre of your company. From decision making to marketing; recruitment to team meetings; and branding to name tags. From the large and impactful statement to the small, almost unnoticed symbols, the extent to which you embrace your Purpose will determine the degree to which it seeps into your culture and way of being.

While embedding Purpose in your organization is an ongoing journey of transformation that truly never ends, it is highly desirable to adopt at least one year and preferably a two-year time frame in order to successfully infuse Purpose within your organization. It is not a one day workshop.

It takes a long time for Purpose to become deeply ingrained within the collective psyche to the extent that it informs culture and behavior. As Purpose is a long-term change program, two years ensures that people do not expect to gain the benefits overnight and sets an appropriately distant horizon. There are 6 steps your business should take to ensure that the embedment is successful.

Your leaders are the most important role models and advocates of your organizational Purpose. Their words, actions and symbolism need to be aligned.

It is essential that they are – and are seen to be – ‘true believers’ of your Purpose. Without their active engagement, Purpose will surely die.

Ultimately, your CEO is responsible for the successful cultural transformation that is at the heart of embedding Purpose. We have all watched some leaders do this with incredible success; others have paid lip service to the exercise and unfortunately only served to chalk up another failed corporate change initiative, demonstrated through poor role modeling and their own lack of commitment.

More than ever, you will need your project team to maintain energy and enthusiasm through the journey.

To fully support their quest, ensure that they are clear about their role, time commitments, and reporting lines. If this is an additional responsibility beyond their full time role, be careful not to overwhelm them, as this risks a negative impact on both delivery and traction.

Ideally, the project team will represent multiple layers and departments within the organization and will be sponsored by a senior People and Culture. The team will be responsible for the management, coordination and implementation of all activities that bring your Purpose to life

A key role is to develop long-term campaigns that engage employees in the process of embedding Purpose that will boost traction immeasurably.

It is likely that you will need to review your existing organizational narrative as you embed Purpose. The elements of your Corporate story needs to be congruent and synergistic, so they make sense to internal and external stakeholders.

Your vision and values may need to be reconsidered in light of your Purpose; so too might your organizational structure, systems and processes. Your brand, website and marketing collateral are other areas to be assessed in the light of Purpose.

Purpose will become one of the foremost elements guiding direction, strategy and decision making from this point on.

Embedding Purpose within the heart of your recruitment and induction activities firmly plants it at the gateway of your organization. It provides a way of expressing your collective intent in the marketplace and becomes a unique selling proposition for those wanting to work in a Purpose led environment

Some potential recruits who don’t feel a connection with your Purpose, or feel that it is contrary to their beliefs, may be discouraged from joining your organization. They are probably better off serving a different organization and the outcome becomes mutually beneficial.

On the flipside, you will employ candidates attracted to the contribution you make through your Purpose led activities. They will be a better cultural fit and will no doubt make a valuable contribution. That represents a win-win situation for all involved.

Most of us get wedded to our existing KPI’s and other measures of success. Having a new Purpose means that you now have a higher order priority. Some previous measures might be in conflict with your new Purpose, so you will need to let go of them. That will be a good test of your commitment to your Purpose. Such measures are normally a good sign of what an organization really values.

Some organizations have taken the bold step of doing away with their previous incentive systems that were aligned to growing revenue and replacing them with KPI’s aligned with their new Purpose. These organizations have chosen to use the power of human creativity and fulfillment to drive their economic engine rather than prescriptive incentives based on the achievement of sales and other profit targets

Other organizations have de-emphasized their financial numbers in their weekly and monthly communications with staff, preferring to focus on the extent to which their Purpose is being embedded and brought to life.

Most organizations are pleasantly surprised at the positive response they receive from customers and associates when they are discussing the transformation going on in their business. Just like your employees, your external partners are similarly yearning for Purpose.

There is no better way to start a presentation to external parties than by setting the context through Purpose and the meaning your organization attaches to the contribution you now strive to make.

Demonstrating your Purpose proudly to the world is a wonderful way of cementing it within your organizational DNA. It will certainly send a profound message to your people about your commitment and preparedness to embrace Purpose in all facets of your organizational life.

As Purpose becomes more deeply embedded, it will start to become the way of life for your organization.

You will notice that people think and speak to each other in new ways. Your organization will make powerful shifts in the way it sets strategic direction and objectives. You will create new products and services and engage with new customer segments. Your employees will incorporate new language and your brand will evolve.

Most importantly, you will become increasingly bound by a collective intent that is deeply meaningful and rewarding for your people. This is likely to increase staff engagement, retention, discretionary effort, customer engagement and loyalty. As Purpose is further baked into your culture and DNA, it will help build a genuine differentiation and a sustainable competitive advantage.

Purpose can transform your organization, the experience of your people, and the customers and community you serve; and fulfill a collective yearning for meaning and Purpose in their daily endeavors.

This is why Purpose matters and how it can transform your organization.

Good luck with your journey!

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