Purpose, Goals and Values Part 3: Finding your How
In the last of our three-part series on the why, what and how of your company, we’re focusing on your ‘how’ – in other words, how you do what you do.
We’re also going to take a deep dive into why your behaviours and actions matter more than you think when hiring and retaining talent.
So, my first question is: do you know your ‘how’?
What is your 'how'?
Simply put, your ‘how’ is what you do as a business to achieve your ‘why’. It’s everything that drives the success of the business – from processes and strategy right down to comms and culture. It’s what differentiates you from your competitors and – in employer branding terms – is why someone should be attracted to working for you.
So why should someone join your company instead of the one down the road? What do you offer that others don’t? What makes people stay when they could move somewhere else?
That’s your how.
Why is ‘how’ so important?
Remember when we talked about finding your company’s ‘why’? This is the most important aspect of your business you need to communicate to your employees. It’s the reason your company exists and what will inspire them to join you in your organisation’s purpose. Let’s face it, if you expect your employees to get out of bed for you every day, you need to give them a reason.
But even if your staff know why you do what you do, if you haven’t shown them how you expect that to happen – in other words the clear plan of action you employ to deliver on your purpose – they’re less likely to stay engaged.
And that means they’re less likely to stay.
Your ‘how’ is what shows your employees that you’re serious about your ‘why’, that it’s authentic and that you have a set of procedures that ensure it happens. As a by-product, it’s what makes your company a great place to work.
But… how do you communicate what it’s like to work at your organisation to candidates before they join?
It’s the piece of the jigsaw applicants would love to know before they accept a job, and it’s also the reason most people leave. If the ‘how’ (leadership, strategy, values, culture and behaviours) doesn’t align with their own priorities, they’re unlikely to hang around.
Defining your ‘how’
Don’t leave your ‘how’ to chance. As a senior leadership team, you need to put processes in place that enable you to deliver on your purpose AND share them with your team.
That means defining two things:
- How you succeed as a business
- How you expect your people to behave
Think about it: what’s the point of communicating your ‘why’ to new employees if you’re not bringing them in on the strategies you need to achieve it? A lack of leadership and transparency from the top is a sure-fire way to lose buy-in from even the most diligent of employees.
Finding your ‘how’ also means defining the behaviours that are important to you as a business – in other words, your core values. Defining and sharing these is one of the best things you can do for your organisation, your existing employees and your hiring process.
But here’s a tip: your values need to be lived out every day in everything you do as a company. That means they’re present not only in your strategic decisions but in your behaviours and your conversations too.
As Simon Sinek says:
“The only way people will know what you believe is by the things you say and do, and if you’re not consistent in the things you say and do, no one will know what you believe.”
Communicating your ‘how’
The more you can communicate your ‘how’ to your existing employees the more aligned they will be with what your company stands for.
But how do we do this?
First, be clear about your overall strategies as a business and communicate them clearly to new employees, at the very least in your company playbook. The sooner they’re on board with how you do what you do, the more engaged they’ll be.
Next, consolidate this through every touchpoint, from performance reviews and away days to internal comms and meetings. Remind staff why they’re there, what drives you as a company and the processes and habits you use to achieve your goals.
Finally, back up what you say in the everyday ways in which you conduct yourself as a leader and how you expect others to behave too. Our culture is the sum of our habits and behaviours, so don’t contradict your ‘how’ in the day-to-day running of the company.
When you share your ‘how’ with your workforce, they’ll not only understand why you do what you do, but will be behind the repeated behaviours that achieve it. And the more your employees understand this, the more they’ll be able to communicate it to future talent.
Now that’s good recruitment.