When you walk into a customer’s lobby or meeting room, you may notice a plaque on the wall that spells out the organization’s purpose statement.
Visual declarations like these present a solid message to visitors about what the organization believes in and strives for. But the power of the statement is only as strong as the number of employees who truly buy into it and live it every day in their work.
According to Christina Haxton, chief potential officer and founder of The Center for Sustainable Strategies, a purpose statement should collectively answer this question: “What difference do we make and for whom?”
In this issue of Promotional Consultant Today, we share Haxton’s tips for crafting an effective purpose statement.
What is a purpose statement? It’s important to note that a purpose statement is not the same as a mission statement. The purpose statement should be inspiring. It should communicate why your employees go to work every day. It should connect individuals to the core values of the organization. Every employee has a right to know the purpose and their role, and how their skills fit into that purpose. As Haxton points out, this is what motivates employees to come to work every day and give 100 percent to their jobs.
Haxton is also clear in pointing out what is not a purpose statement. She says it is not measurable and not attached to the bottom line. It’s not how you do something. It’s not your business strategy. Instead a purpose statement is inspirational. It’s aspirational. It creates emotion, values and a corporate culture that help you to attract and keep talent, as well as de-select talent who are not aligned to the company’s purpose.
She says that, ultimately, everyone in the company is accountable for making decisions that are aligned with the purpose statement, including what work we do, how we hire and fire people, and how we allocate our resources.
So what does an effective purpose statement look like? Haxton shares these examples:
Merck: To gain victory against disease and help mankind
Disney: To use our imaginations to bring happiness to millions
Johnson & Johnson: To alleviate pain and suffering
These purpose statements are compelling. They are the north stars of these organizations in which everything is aligned. As Haxton explains, “… a purpose statement isn’t for the faint of heart and doesn’t happen in a half-day leadership workshop. It is a process, and not an event. It starts from the bottom up, the top down and is inspired by a strong “why we do it” of the founders, the team members who make it happen, the company’s core values and most of all the big difference the company makes and for whom.”
The process of developing your purpose statement can be fun, engaging and inspiring for the entire organization. Get employees involved at all levels of the organization, and gain adoption by practicing your purpose at internal meetings, through email and in client presentations. Create and adopt your purpose statement and live it as a purpose-driven organization.
Source: Christina Haxton is the chief potential officer and founder of The Center for Sustainable Strategies, a business strategy and executive advisory company that assists technology and life science entrepreneurs, business owners and CEOs to build strong, purpose-driven companies, achieve sustainable growth and avoid burnout.