Putting Purpose Into Your Organization’s Efforts

organizational purpose

It’s no secret that individuals and teams produce better results when they are motivated. Managers, coaches, and parents often seek far and wide to find a source of motivation for those they desire better results from. Motivation can come in the form of a benefit or purpose. Benefits are usually finite and have a shorter life span; whereas, purpose can exist a lifetime.

In companies, providing a sense of purpose is the best motivator. The purpose can come from what a product or service provides to customers and the benefit derived from it. Purpose can also come from the positive change or end result a project will produce when completed. These are great motivators to employees and drive them to be the best they can be.

However, even these items aren’t a guarantee when it comes to providing employees a sense of purpose. In large companies, the products, services, and customers can be very distant. They can be several times removed, which significantly reduces their impact on an employees’ sense of purpose. Projects are also limited as they do not always have a compelling purpose and are temporal, not lasting forever.

There is one sure fire way to provide all employees a long term sense of purpose. You can do so by identifying all the ways your organization provides value to your customers, defining each employee’s link in the value chain, and promoting each individual’s contribution to the value chain. This value chain is ever present and requires contributions from every employee in the organization to be successful. If an employee can’t connect to this value chain maybe they shouldn’t be in the organization. Also, it doesn’t matter if the customer is the ultimate external customer or an internal customer.

Let’s look at the details of making this happen:

  • Identify all the ways your organization provides value to your customers. There a many ways and means by which your organization touches your customer: the products and services you provide them, interactions you have with them, and all the different ways they observe your organization. Each of these touch points are an opportunity for your organization to provide value. During this process you may identify other places where you should be adding value and current things you should stop doing.
  • Define each employee’s link in the value chain. Each link in the value chain is a role performed by one of more employees. There can be many employees who contribute to the value chain through one role and there can be one employee who contributes to the value chain through many roles. For each role, define the link by giving it a short one sentence description. The description needs to be in the context of the value your organization provides its customers. For instance, instead of the description “Answers phones” use “connects people with people”. Make it meaningful in the context of value. Then list the high level responsibilities of that role and list future opportunities for increasing that role’s value contribution. Lastly, indicate if it is a direct or support role. Direct roles deal with the customer directly and support roles aid someone within your organizations so they can better connect with the customer directly.
  • Promote each individual’s contribution to the value chain. Nothing beats the consistency of messaging to ingrain a way of thinking into someone’s day-to-day work life. Leaders need to perpetually refer to the value their organization provides and each individual’s contribution to it. This practice will establish within each employee the purpose and motivation to be the best they can be.

Some of you are thinking this is a gimmick and that you can derive your own sense of purpose, motivating yourself to greater achievement. Great! That’s you. If you are a leader you can’t afford to rely on each individual to come up with their own purpose because if it doesn’t work you’ll be left with an under-performing organization that you judge to be full of bad eggs. In the end, however, others will judge you as the under-performer for your lack of leadership. Seek and follow the value chain; it will lead to success.