This blog in brief: People are looking for ‘the next big thing’ to propel their businesses forward, yet the missing piece is about getting the basics in place. Instead of exhaustive new initiatives, clarify your business purpose by underpinning it with authentic, simple values, which in turn, are supported by succinctly defined behaviours. Measure it, nurture and improve it and the magic will happen.
Sometimes it’s necessary to go back to basics to be able to move forward. There’s a theme running through so many business conversations lately about how to gain competitive advantage in our ever changing world. People are looking for ‘the next big thing’, examining what others are doing and trying to replicate and adapt that for their businesses in the hope it will kick-start them to greatness. Yet, what’s clear is that the missing piece is their ability to set their people up to succeed by getting the basics in place.
Clarity of purpose
Today’s employee needs to know ‘the why’ – what’s the point of working with you? They want to know they can contribute and make a difference. They need to know they’re working with a company they can be proud of and has a purpose that they can feel excited about. Missions and visions are all very well though are generally so long no one can remember them. Your purpose tells the world why you’re in business, drives your brand and culture and is a barometer for how your business and the people in it behave. Less is more. As an example, Purple Cubed’s purpose is one word; ‘Transformation’.
Individuals also need to understand how they fit in with this purpose – a cascade if you like, from the overall purpose to each and every person. We often tell the story about US President, John F Kennedy’s 1962 visit to the NASA space centre who, noticing a worker with a sweeping brush, introduced himself and asked the guy what he was doing. The worker responded “Well, Mr. President, I‘m helping put a man on the moon.” Yes, he was cleaning the corridor, yet in the wider sense, he was contributing to the making of history.
If an entire team embraces the wider purpose and value system, that’s when the magic happens.
Culture: a cohesive approach
Connected to the purpose are the values that people will adopt in order to correctly deliver on it. And underpinning those values are the behaviours that people will demonstrate to deliver in practical terms.
Setting people up to succeed:
Once people know exactly what is required through a cohesive approach and simple, clear messaging, it becomes very straightforward to help them improve their performance day by day. This will make the difference people crave – not popping in a few new tools and ‘initiatives’.
Whilst there’s plenty of debate about what to do instead of the annual appraisal and the need to move on from negative concepts such as ‘performance management’, it is still necessary to have ongoing progress check-ins so that people can access the support they need to be able to deliver on purpose, values and behaviours. This is a healthy thing; it’s not micro-management; it is performance improvement – helping people to be their best selves. In our view, that’s the responsibility of every employee and, in particular, those occupying leadership positions.
The old saying goes ‘what gets measured gets done’ though, unless you are a micro-business, it is impossible to keep track of how people are doing. Digital tools such as our own Talent Toolbox are essential in doing this. People need to be able to assess their own progress, access guidance, support and development, set and mange goals, be able to communicate and manage their aspirations, give feedback and have ongoing dialogue as and when they need it. This is not something that’s ‘done to’ people; they need to be able to drive it.
If you could use some support on purpose and values, we’d be happy to help