What is your organization’s purpose?
Sometimes when I ask people what the purpose of their organization is, they struggle to articulate anything meaningfully. Many will go to their smartphone and try to find some sort of purpose on their website – that may or may not be there.
The importance of developing a clear organizational purpose has been written about extensively. Most notably, Simon Sinek has described the “golden circle” and his call to action that starts with “why” – “People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it.”
I have come to see that having a clear and meaningful organizational purpose is essential to building and sustaining an organization that employees want to be a part of. Fundamentally, I believe that employees desire to work in an organization that matters and makes a difference. One of the benefits of this is that when employees believe in the purpose of the organization they are more likely to be engaged and productive.
Developing a meaningful organizational purpose will only help so much, though. More important is the role of authentically communicating that purpose frequently enough and at the right times.
A few weeks ago I needed a mundane task completed. I knew that on the surface the task did not seem relevant or meaningful. Therefore, when delegating the task to a newer staff person, I spent a mere sixty seconds highlighting how this task connected to our organization purpose. When finishing this explanation, I could see the employee I had delegated it to could now see the connection of this task to why our organization does its work. And, as I had hoped, the task was completed both in a timely and high quality manner.
In the last year I have become more intentional about actively communicating our purpose. When I’m having individual conversations, in meetings, and when giving reports about our plans and vision, I will frequently refer back to our organizational purpose, e.g., “And this is how this helps us with organizational purpose.” I believe that by more intentionally communicating why we do what we do, our staff more clearly see how their daily work fits into our purpose.