Purpose: Connecting Tasks, Goals, and Strategy to “Why”

In my last post I mentioned performance reviews and how important it is when setting individual goals to “look up” to departmental and corporate strategy.

All employee tasks contribute to the overall business strategy but unless you’re making that clear to each member of the team, they may not realize it. Don’t miss an opportunity to engage people by letting them know how and WHY their work is important.

Even more important, however, is to connect the dots from individual contributions and goals to the reason you and your company are in business. I’m talking about purpose, as in purpose and values.

Making money is the obvious reason to be in business, but beyond that, there is usually a higher goal. Business founders usually start companies with fire in their bellies because they want to make a difference in the world. What’s your fire about?

To employees and individual contributors, maximizing profits for someone else isn’t very exciting. How can they make a difference? How does their work count?

You need to let them know because they may not see it. Each time you offer feedback, you have an opportunity to tie in their work with the big picture, with the business purpose and values.

The problem lies in the fact that most businesses are unclear about their purpose. They do a poor job of articulating what that purpose is and how they will make a difference to their customers.

Anyone with small children has seen how they go through a stage where they ask “Why?” for everything. If your people asked you “why?” everytime you gave directions, would you be able to tie your answers in with the business purpose and values?

As someone said, “It isn’t what you sell, it’s what you stand for.” What do you think about that?