Do you know what the purpose of the business you own or work for is?
Well, of course, Greg, the purpose is to make a profit. If we don’t, we go out of business.
I get that. Profits are great. But I call that the outcome of the business. Every business wants the outcome to be profit. But, there are a million ways to make a profit. What is the purpose you are fulfilling in order to get the outcome of a profit?
This isn’t just a pointless word game. Deloitte has been studying this and I have some of the data on how important it is for your employees, customers and bottom line for you later in this post.
“To be truly successful, companies need to have a corporate mission that is bigger than making a profit.” – Marc Benioff, Salesforce
But what made me write about this today is a story a friend told me. He said the purpose of what he used to do was to keep people healthy and free of deadly diseases.
My friend isn’t a doctor. He’s a retired engineer. He designed wastewater management systems for third world countries. Making the water clean to drink literally saves lives. Look at the purpose he saw in his work. Do you think that made him a more engaged, enthusiastic, and joyful employee and person? You bet!
The purpose of your business, career, or job should be the difference you are making in the world. That’s important, engaging stuff – and every job can make a difference.
A school bus driver can see her purpose as driving a bus, or she could see it as helping the future of America get safely to and from school, prepared to learn amazing things.
Most companies haven’t figured out how to be purpose driven organizations. Here are a few mission statements I found from fortune 500 companies:
1) Profitable growth through superior customer service, innovation, quality and commitment.
2) Guided by relentless focus on our five imperatives, we will constantly strive to implement the critical initiatives required to achieve our vision. In doing this, we will deliver operational excellence in every corner of the Company and meet or exceed our commitments to the many constituencies we serve. All of our long-term strategies and short-term actions will be molded by a set of core values that are shared by each and every associate.
3) To grow profitably in the world’s vehicular markets and provide industry leading shareholder value
Do those mission statements resonate with you? Do you know what the purpose of those companies is? Are you overcome with a desire to join their team and help them with their mission?
The first mission statement is from an agricultural equipment company. Maybe the purpose should be: “To help American farmers feed the world.”
Companies could learn a lot by looking at Steve Jobs’ mission statement for Apple in 1980: “To make a contribution to the world by making tools for the mind that advance humankind.”
That sounds like something I could get excited about. How about you?
The bottom line is that having a purpose for your business that resonates with your customers, employees, and investors helps get the outcomes you want – including increased profit.
Here is the data I promised you. Deloitte found that at organizations with a strong sense of purpose, 73% of employees were engaged. At companies without a strong sense of purpose only 23% of employees were engaged. That’s a 50 point difference. Whoa! (Click the link above for more data from the study and to dig deeper.)
“An organization’s culture of purpose answers the critical questions of who it is and why it exists. They have a culture of purpose beyond making a profit.” – Punit Renjen, Deloitte
If you’re not sure what your organization’s purpose is, its time to find it.
It’s not what you do. It’s why you do it.
It’s not your title. It’s your values.
It’s not what you think other people want it to be. It’s what connects with you at your core.
Take some time to think about it. Take out a piece of paper and write:
The purpose of my company is ____________________.
The purpose of my role in ________ is ________________.
How does that call you to action? How can you taking that action in your life today?
It can be a baby step, don’t try to do it all at once. But, what can you do today to take action on your purpose?