A Meaningful Company Mission Matters

A Meaningful Company Mission Matters
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Strategies and People Need Meaning
A meaningful company mission, your fundamental purpose, helps to create broad organizational commitment and drive peak performance.  Corporate strategies without a meaningful purpose to pursue can lead to goals that are temporary and unfulfilling.  If you and your teams do not understand “the greater reason why,” you are missing a critical ingredient of a high performance culture.

The Growth of Corporate Purpose
More investors, CEOs, customers, partners, and employees are expecting to see how a company’s social purpose is aligned with their ability to maintain its profits.  In 2018, the $6 trillion investment firm BlackRock informed business leaders that their companies need to do more than make profits — they need to contribute to society if they want to receive their support.  In 2019, a group of almost 200 chief executive officers from major U.S. corporations, issued the following statements:

  • “The re-imagined idea of a corporation drops the age-old notion that they function first and foremost to serve their shareholders and maximize profits.”
  • “Investing in employees, delivering value to customers, dealing ethically with suppliers, and supporting outside communities are now at the forefront of American business goals.”

The Importance of Individual Purpose
The research* is clear.  People who have a strong sense of purpose have healthier, more satisfying, and longer lives regardless of age. That is good news for companies looking to cultivate higher levels of purpose who want to engage and retain top talent.  Just remember that individual purpose is often a winding journey that must be nurtured and cultivated, not a single destination.

The Definition of Meaning
In terms of a corporate strategy, high meaning and high purpose equates to high performance.  We define high meaning as the reason people stay and the motivation to perform.  High levels of meaning are clear, authentic, emotional, and aligned.

A meaningful purpose balances an ideal goal with a company’s realistic capabilities, a company’s dream with a company’s actual resources, and a commitment to long-term goals with the necessity to flex as situations change.

  • How Meaning Strengthens Strategy
    A meaningful company mission underpins an organization’s game plan for success.  A clear and important purpose provides the kind of clarity that allows for your company to fire on all cylinders.  When a strategy lacks meaning in the eyes of those responsible for executing it, people are unlikely to connect the essence of strategic imperatives to their decisions and to their work.

    A meaningful company mission helps to align company talent and culture with strategy.

  • How Meaning Creates Customer Loyalty
    A meaningful company purpose also matters to customers.  According to a recent study by Porter Novelli, nearly 79% percent of Americans say they are more loyal to Purpose-driven brands like Patagonia, TOMS, and Warby Parker than more traditional brands.
  • How Meaning Impacts Employee Contribution
    High levels of meaning and purpose at work have been found to create a strong sense of personal fulfillment and higher discretionary effort.  Employees who have a clear line of sight to the company mission and find meaning in their work report being more engaged, more committed, and higher-performing regardless of role, tenure, or industry.

    According to Gallup, only 33 percent of employees strongly agree that their company’s mission or purpose makes their job feel important. By doubling that ratio, organizations could realize a 34% reduction in absenteeism and a 19% improvement in quality.

    Identify ways to highlight people’s contributions and show people the impact of their jobs and make the pursuit of purpose part of the way work gets done, rather than a one-off event.

One Potential Downside
The only potential downside, as noted by the Greater Good Science Center, is that employees who are “driven by meaningful work are always stepping up to new challenges and stepping in to fill gaps. And, many times, rather than being rewarded for their commitment, they find that their organizations just absorb their extra effort, and begin to rely on it through investing less in the kinds of labor and resources that would normally do what their most committed workers volunteer to do.”

So, just make sure that you do not take advantage of the power of meaningful work and strive for a fair balance with each and every employee.

4 Attributes to Create The “Right” Kind of Meaning
To be truly a strategic driver, a meaningful company mission should create a purpose that is:

  1. At the Core of Your Company’s “Raison d’Etre”
    You need to define a timeless and worthwhile good that your company fulfills. What problem are you solving that brings something good to the world?
  2. A Call to Greater Action
    Your company’s purpose should create a strong desire to want to do more. It should easily root out any hint of individual, team or company complacency.
  3. Fully Understandable and Implementable
    It is not enough to describe why you’re in business and what you aspire to offer to your world of customers; you need to understand just what it will take to deliver on your promise.
  4. Forward-Looking
    A meaningful corporate purpose should inspire ongoing innovation and push people to struggle to achieve new and potentially rewarding directions.

The Bottom Line
A meaningful purpose should fuel you and your team to greater performance by fighting complacency, by striving toward stretch goals, and by aligning your capabilities to a greater reason why.  In a nutshell both employees and organizations benefit from meaningful work.

To learn more about building a meaningful strategy that gets implemented, download 5 Expert Tips to Better Communicate Your Strategy

*The American Psychosomatic Society, the International Journal of Aging and Human Development, and the Journal Journal of Positive Psychology

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