Expert Advice for Medium and Midsize Businesses

How to Tie Purpose into Your Culture and Transform Your Company (Part 1)

Guest Author

By Adam Fridman, Contributor @ Inc, Founder Mabbly

We’ve all seen the statistics: Gallup employee engagement polls show that more than 70% of US workers are not engaged with their employers. This has a direct impact on everything from financial results to customer experience, workplace safety, and workplace relationships.

Recently, I interviewed more than 600 business leaders from top organizations to talk about how purpose is transforming their workplace culture. In those interviews, these leaders talked about what works (and what doesn’t) when it comes to making purpose a living, breathing part of their companies’ culture.

The Link Between Purpose and Culture

If purpose is why your company does what it does, then values are how you do it, and habits are the daily things you do that reflect it.

Culture, on the other hand, is the combination of values, habits, beliefs, and assumptions that engage a team to achieve its purpose.

Brands are both a direct reflection of a company’s culture and purpose.

So why is culture so important if you want to live your purpose? Well, Peter Drucker once said, “culture eats strategy for breakfast.” And he was right. You might define an amazing purpose for your organization and align it to a strategy to get you there, but without a culture that can actually get the job done, those ideas aren’t going anywhere.

Many companies that say they have a great workplace culture really mean that they have a workplace where people genuinely like each other, think alike, and have fun at work.

But foosball tables and free beer on Friday do not a purposeful culture make. Indeed, looking at culture as a function mainly of similarity can weaken your organization by eliminating diversity of opinion and experience. Differences are the key to innovation and can strengthen a company as long as there is a culture that supports people working toward the same goal and playing by the same rules. That’s where purpose comes in.

Purposeful People Create Purposeful Cultures

A purposeful culture leverages the strengths of its people. It allows them to live out their own individual purpose while also living the organization’s purpose. So how do you tie purpose so that it engages people and drives the organization forward?

The business leaders I interviewed mentioned the importance of involving people in establishing purpose. Now, it may not be feasible to get every single person involved in defining purpose, but to truly engage, there needs to be some way to synthesize a purpose that everyone can get behind. This is because workers today seek more than a paycheck in exchange for giving their hearts and minds to an employer. They want meaning from their work. To be truly engaged, they need to believe the company serves an important purpose and that their contributions matter.

Approaching purpose as something that bubbles up rather than trickles down is a key part of making it part of your culture. When people hear their company’s purpose for the first time, they should think, “Yes, that is why I am here. That is why I chose this organization.”

Check out tomorrow’s blog to learn how to create a purpose (and a culture) that transforms your company and allows it to Go for Growth!

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