Metaphorically, autumn is here and winter is looming. The financial pundits are discussing not if, but when, market volatility will hit.
You’re in good company if you believe a strong sense of corporate purpose would help your company weather what’s ahead. And in even better company if you don’t believe your company is well-aligned with a purpose.
The Business Case for Purpose, based on Harvard Business Review’s recent study with EY Beacon Institute, found 80% of executive respondents believe a strong sense of collective purpose helps increase customer loyalty. 89% feel it drives employee satisfaction. Yet only 38% of them believe their employees have clear understanding of their organizational purpose and commitment to core values/beliefs.
Are you a Purpose Doubter?
If you’re one who cringes at the oft-touted idea of “Purpose”… don’t turn away. Surely you agree it would be advantageous to have supportive stakeholders, loyal customers and employees motivated by more than pay and benefits. You can just forget I used the “P word” but still follow the strategy.
I’ve started re-purposing (no pun intended) the Unique Selling Proposition (USP) into a corporate reputation USP of “Unique Solving Proposition” that re-frames the conversation somewhat. Either way, 2019 planning calls for deepening alignment with stakeholders, before “winter” sets in.
I’d suggest the following and wonder what other ideas readers have.
Define your corporate character in terms of what you solve in the world. Convey what you do for your customers on an emotional level. And define how employees and partners are integral to that beneficial and noble cause. Find ways to communicate this over and over and over again.
Influence your culture to drive for it. Develop trainings and awards when teams demonstrate exceptional innovation and skill against your purpose. Insert it into your recruiting efforts so new hires are vetted and motivated before they even start. Work to make this the reason people love to work for you and celebrate it routinely.
Involve others in demonstrating that purpose. Align volunteerism, giving and social responsibility efforts with that same USP to bring it to life, help everyone live it and deepen the company’s relationship to it. Include your supply chain and other partners in the efforts, and honor their role in the success. Advocate for others outside your sphere to join in.
Humbly ask customers for further insights into the issue. Sure, the marketing department needs to tout how you solve the need better than your competitors. But communications can trigger dialogue and gather insights into how the need is changing, how it feels to have the problem, and how things are better when it’s solved. This can be a powerful way to reinforce your position as king of the solution, and gather invaluable insights into changes that may be afoot.
Good luck in the cold months ahead. Here’s hoping you enjoy the naturally warming benefits of motivated and aligned stakeholders to see you through.
Patty Tucker is a corporate communications strategist bringing fresh perspective to CEOs and CCOs who want objective senior counsel without the complexity and agenda of a major agency. Find her at TreehouseCounsel.com and LinkedIn.