As we continue our series on company culture and what makes a great culture great, I want to focus on how critical it is for an organization to have a compelling shared purpose. Most organizations have vision statements, yet they fail to articulate what their true purpose is beyond producing profits, or as Simon Sinek would say, their “why.”
So, why is having a compelling, shared purpose so important? Because the best talent hires their employers, not the other way around. Study after study affirms that people feel the contributions they make to their organization’s goals are more motivating than their paycheck. People choose (and stay) at companies where they can connect what they do to a greater purpose. Most people are not satisfied with just showing up; they want to make a difference. Therefore, a shared objective sets organizations apart from their competition.
I’ve been a long-time fan of Stephen Covey and his organization’s leadership beliefs. One particular quote from Covey resonates with me: “Highly engaged employees are those who have trust in their organization, feel like valued members of a winning team, pursuing an important mission.” I’ve shared the power of trust and the importance of employees feeling valued in previous blog posts, but this time I want to focus on what it means to feel as though you are part of a winning team pursuing an important mission.
The highest performing, most enduring brands that exist today are intentional and clear with their purpose and articulate to employees how to deliver on that purpose. One of the best examples is Disney. Its purpose is simple: create happiness. Everyone, from the actors dressed in full costume to the people picking up trash, understands the organization’s mission and how they individually contribute to it. They also understand that the endeavor is shared; if one team member fails to deliver, the entire experience falls short.
For instance, if a child is crying, employees (including the aforementioned trash collectors) are trusted to do what is necessary to help ease the situation. They don’t need permission to buy popcorn to offer the family; they are empowered to make that decision on their own. They are also given feedback that confirms what they’re doing is the right thing.
What does this commitment to a shared purpose do? It unleashes talent and enables people to do their best work. Everyone understands the organization’s goals, feels valued for the ways in which they contribute, and clearly sees their performance against expectations so they know if and how they are winning.
If you’re interested in learning more, read this Transitional Leadership blog about finding and fueling your personal purpose at work.
More Articles in our Culture Series:
What Makes a Great Culture Great?
Building Culture Through Knowing, Growing, and Thanking Your People
What is the ROI on Caring?
Inspiring Personal & Professional Growth
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Content authored by former employee Tonya Dittman.