What is your organization’s purpose? If you’re not quite sure how to answer that, you’re not alone. Many organizations focus on their mission, vision, and objectives but not purpose. In recent years, however, the idea of developing and focusing on purpose has become more common.
Pushing toward achieving a mission is similar to focusing on purpose but not the same. Look at it this way: The mission is the end goal, but the purpose is the driving force behind it. In short, the purpose is the “why” behind the actions the organization takes day in and day out. Another way to look at it is that the purpose is the meaning behind the work or the reason the company exists, besides to make money.
Why Have a Purpose-Driven Culture?
Having a purpose-driven culture has many benefits:
- Working with a clear purpose can be beneficial to employee engagement. When people understand not only what they’re doing and what their goals are but also why and what the meaning is in the big picture, it can help them feel that they’re part of something greater. This is especially true if the purpose speaks to them on a personal level and aligns with their values.
- When you’re clear on the organization’s purpose, it’s easier to stay on track and know what is important to pursue and how to go about doing business. The purpose behind the organization can inform what choices make sense in both the short and the long term and can greatly influence the organization’s path.
- It provides clarity. Having a purpose-driven organization means you’re aligned on the core purpose and understand it. Being committed in this way can make goal setting easier and tough decisions clearer because decisions that are aligned with the purpose must win.
- For employers, this can be a win-win scenario. Being purpose-driven not only makes the big picture and path forward clearer but also helps engage and motivate the workforce around common ideals. It can be a tool for recruiting and retention. Employees like to be proud of what they do and what the organization stands for. When they are, they’re more likely to put in their best efforts.
How to Create a Purpose-Driven Culture
Organizations that want to have a purpose-driven culture can take steps to make that happen. Beyond identifying and communicating the purpose, here are some tips:
- When devising and communicating the organization’s purpose, be both realistic and aspirational. In other words, ensure that the purpose is something the organization is (or will be) actively engaged in and driven by, as well as something it will continue to strive for. Figure out why the organization exists, and start with that.
- Ensure the leadership team is in full alignment with the core purpose of the organization and will make decisions accordingly.
- Ensure that the purpose is a core component of the organization’s strategy and objectives—both short and long term.
- Communicate and work with members of leadership to ensure they understand the core purpose and know how to make decisions that are in alignment with it and how to communicate those decisions in a way that explains the alignment.
- Communicate with employees about how their roles fit within the organization’s larger purpose.
- Work with the public relations or communications or marketing teams to ensure outward communications to the public are also reflective of this purpose.