In this blog post
The most important business strategy that differentiates a firm from another is the very purpose on which the organization is built and how best is the purpose absorbed and driven organization-wide. When companies like Tata, and Infosys, were founded on a purpose, it was overlooked because of the prevailing context for organizations was purely transactional. However, there was a tectonic shift in the perspectives during the early 2000s when it became more relational. Companies realized that insights are more important than information; empowerment is more important than experience.
A recent interview with Mr. N.R. Narayan Murthy, at Infosys@40 on CNBC-TV18, reiterated the fact of the very purpose for which Infosys is built
- Seek respect from every stakeholder
- Democratize the wealth to stakeholders (Infosys was the first private company to introduce employee stock options)
- Prove, that a company built in India can serve the needs of the global audience
This propagated the values of CLIFE (Client value; Lead by example; Integrity & Transparency; Fairness; Excellence) in Infosys on which the empire was built.
Similarly, the Tata empire was built on the single purpose of ‘Trust’ and that is the reason why most of their products will always have a loyal customer base no matter in which sector they diversify. These are purposeful India-born companies that are leading by example.
Like always, any great initiative should always start within. Building a purposeful organization starts with employees and other stakeholders where they are treated as “purpose assets” instead of “transactional assets”. The first and foremost task the organization should do is to make employees find meaning in what they do and why they do it.
5 Questions to Help Employees Find Their Inner Purpose (hbr.org)
What employees really need, to feel engaged with and satisfied by their jobs, is an inner sense of purpose. As Deloitte found in a 2016 study, people feel loyal to companies that support their own career and life ambitions — in other words, what’s meaningful to them. A leader should be able to instill and foster this inner sense of purpose. The following are the questions that leaders may pose to help the employee identify their inner purpose
- What are you good at doing? – the idea is to identify the strengths
- Which work activities take less effort?
- What have you got the recognition for?
- What do you take because you believe you are the best person?
- What do you enjoy? – the idea is to rethink/rediscover what they love about work
- What do you look forward to doing?
- What is it that energizes you further when you look at the calendar?
- What feels most useful? – the idea is to make them feel how important they are
- Which work outcome you take most pride in?
- Which of your tasks are most critical for the team and organization?
- What are the highest priorities in your life and does work fit in?
- What creates a sense of forward momentum? – the idea is to make them understand how keen the company is to become a part of their success
- What are you learning that you’ll use in the future?
- What do you envision for yourself next?
- How’s your work today getting you closer to what you want for yourself?
- How do you relate to others? – the idea is to identify themselves as a social person
- Which working partnerships are best for you?
- What would an office of your favorite people look like?
- How does your work enhance your family and social connections?
When people are posed to answer these questions and when companies act accordingly, people feel more connected, more secure, and importantly more purpose-driven. So, as a reciprocating behavior, people tend to take interest in what makes a company purposeful and act toward it. This must be a combined effort from each function right from HR, Finance, Marketing, Engineering, and Leadership to follow it to the core and execute it to perfection. The responsibility of a leader is to identify suitable catalysts within each function and make him/her an internal ambassador who carries the baton of instilling the thought process around purpose and executing it.
Craft your work – and make work a craft (hbr.org)
Yale Professor Amy Wrzesniewski once conducted an in-depth study of hospital custodial staff to determine what helped certain members of the custodial team excel. The results were both fascinating and revealing. She found out that some of the staff created their work from what they have been assigned which they found meaningful and worthwhile like craft the work and also a closer look also revealed that this crafting was also a demonstration of treating work as craft — focusing on the skill needed to complete one’s work and dedicating oneself to perfecting those skills.
To sustain every company must not only be profitable but also be purposeful and should identify aspirational ambassadors who can ignite the sense of purpose in everyone around them. Purpose isn’t magic, it’s something we must consciously pursue and create. With the right approach, almost any job can be meaningful transforming successful organizations into purposeful organizations.
- Ask Your Employees These Questions. They Will Thank You (hbr.org)
- To Find Meaning in Your Work, Change How You Think About It (hbr.org)