Purpose, Goals and Values Part 1: Finding your Why
In his book, Start with Why, Simon Sinek says that everything to do with your business fits into a ‘golden circle’ of Why, What and How.
In the next couple of weeks we’re going to take a deeper dive into each of these in turn and find out why they’re so important. And yes, you guessed it, we’ll be doing it from our very own employer branding perspective.
This week, we’re looking at what’s arguably the most important of the three: your why.
Why is ‘why’ so important?
For most companies, the focus of their attention is either on what they do or how they do it. And I get that – after all, it’s easier to concentrate on what you can see or experience than the purpose behind it all.
But from an employer branding perspective, this is a problem. By spending all their time telling their employees what they do and how they do it, companies are leaving out a big part of what makes people engaged in their work: the why.
Put simply, your ‘why’ is what drives you. It’s your true purpose, the answer to the question, “why do we exist?” In other words, it’s what you believe. When you start with ‘why’, what you do and make – and the people you employ – automatically reflect that.
And that’s why your ‘why’ is just as important for your employees as it is for your senior leaders.
Sure, your employees might not be making the decisions, but if they don’t see where their role fits with your overall purpose as a company, they’re unlikely to feel engaged and respected. And when engagement goes down, so does retention.
So how do you find your purpose?
First of all, defining your purpose isn’t easy. It can take a bit of soul searching to find what really drives you as a company. But the best place to start is with what you believe. After all, your purpose is the root of your business – why you exist and what makes you do everything you do.
Let’s look at an example from one of the world’s biggest companies: LinkedIn.
Here’s LinkedIn’s purpose:
“To connect the world’s professionals to make them more productive and successful.”
This tells us a little more about what LinkedIn believes and – most importantly – how they want to make the world a better place. For its employees, this means that, whatever their role, they have the same purpose behind it all: to connect the world’s professionals.
And that’s what your purpose boils down to. How can you as a company contribute to making a difference in the world around you? For us at WeLove9am, it’s about experiencing the world of work differently. That means we believe that recruitment and retention doesn’t have to be the way it’s always been. Deep down, changing this is what drives us, which is why it’s the starting point for everything we do.
And how do you communicate it?
Communicating your purpose isn’t about a flash slogan or USP. This isn’t marketing, it’s what you authentically believe. And it’s why you and your employees get out of bed in the morning.
Defining your purpose also isn’t about making money – although that’s not to say that a clear purpose doesn’t do wonders for your bottom line.
By far the best by-product of having a ‘why’ that everyone shares is that your team understands that what they do is important. By putting their role in the context of the company’s purpose, they can see that what they do makes a difference. And employees who know they make a difference are more likely to stick around.
You should define your purpose with care, but most importantly, communicate it daily. Make it run through your company like a stick of rock, reminding your employees why they’re there and how they fit into the master plan.
Asking yourself “Why do we do what we do?” will take you on a journey to finding your ‘why’. It will address your core purpose, your reason for existence. This purpose then becomes a guide for your organisation – from onboarding to away days – giving you a long-term direction for every employee.
And what’s better for your employer brand than that?