This story is a guest contribution from Culture Partners, an organizational culture consultancy that uses human industrial-organizational psychological methods to drive results by connecting experiences, beliefs, and actions.
In the corporate world, the pursuit of purpose has risen to prominence, promising to heighten engagement, innovation, and organizational performance. However, within the intricacies of daily operations, employees can struggle to maintain a connection to their organization’s corporate purpose. Luckily, there are strategies to help bridge this gap, ensuring purpose remains a guiding beacon amid the hustle and bustle of everyday work life.
Articulate the ripple effect of people’s work
The quest for purpose-driven work is intrinsically linked to understanding the impact of individual contributions, including the ripple effects of seemingly routine tasks. For many roles, especially those that operate behind the scenes, it can be challenging to discern how the day-to-day efforts contribute to the broader organizational mission.
For example, consider a support role within an IT firm. While the frontline staff directly interacts with clients, the backstage teams, responsible for tasks like creating financing packages and scheduling, may find it challenging to see their role’s significance in the grand scheme of helping small businesses succeed.
Encouraging individuals to articulate the ripple effect of their work involves asking questions that go beyond the immediate tasks:
- What happens as a result of my work?
- Who is impacted?
- What does that enable them to do?
By prompting these reflections, leaders can illuminate the often-overlooked connections between seemingly tedious tasks and the broader corporate purpose. This strategy can be transformative, turning routine activities into valued contributions and empowering employees to recognize the meaningful connection between their tasks and the overarching purpose of the organization. Additionally, by fostering a culture that encourages individuals to reflect on the real impact of their work, leaders can reignite motivation for tasks large and small.
Reframe your measures of success
Shifting toward a purpose-driven culture often requires a reevaluation of success metrics beyond conventional performance indicators. While quantitative metrics remain influential in the corporate realm, they can fall short in two ways. First, employees may struggle to grasp how their role contributes to defined metrics. Second, existing metrics often lack an emotional component that could engage and motivate employees seeking more meaningful work.
Reframing traditional metrics with more emphasis on the human impact can address these barriers through understanding and emotional connection. For example, consider a financial services firm with a noble purpose of “fueling prosperity.” Instead of solely focusing on the number of accounts added, the sales team might shift the conversation to "the number of people we are helping improve their finances." This reframing not only enhances emotional engagement, but serves as a concrete reminder of the broader impact to which each role contributes.
This approach also dovetails with the broader discourse on value-driven hiring and environmental, social, and governance (ESG) considerations. By emphasizing the human impact beyond mere financial metrics, organizations position themselves as socially responsible entities, attracting and retaining talent that aligns with their value-driven ethos.
Celebrate external impact
In the quest to create a purpose-driven culture, organizations should also measure their external impact as a metric of success. Shifting the spotlight from internal achievements—those beyond personal or team achievements—highlights an organization’s wider impact on the community, environment, or society at large, and creates a shared sense of corporate purpose.
For example, consider a chief revenue officer (CRO) who hosted a remote sales kickoff celebration. Instead of solely focusing on internal achievements and top producers, the CRO expanded the celebration to highlight how the team's tech solution positively impacted millions of people. This deliberate connection between internal success and external impact not only resonated with the team's sense of accomplishment, but also reinforced the significance of the societal impact of their work.
This approach underscores the significance of goals that contribute to a greater societal good, emphasizing the role of organizations as responsible stewards of social and environmental well-being. Celebrating external impact also solidifies an organization’s commitment to making a positive difference in the world.
Fostering a deeper connection to corporate purpose
As corporations relentlessly pursue purpose and meaningful work, intentional efforts are crucial to bridge the gap between individual roles and the overarching mission. The strategies of articulating the ripple effect, reframing measures of success, and celebrating external impact collectively serve as a compass, guiding leaders to foster a deeper connection to the organization's corporate purpose.
To navigate the intricacies of the daily grind, organizational leaders must ensure that the work undertaken by individuals does not become detached from the true impact it has on the world around them. These strategies, when implemented cohesively, create a workplace where every task, role, and celebration contribute meaningfully to a greater societal good. The synergistic effect of these strategies not only enhances employee engagement but also propels the organization towards becoming a purpose-driven entity.