6 Questions to Evaluate Your Company’s Purpose
The following is adapted from The Problem Isn’t Their Paycheck.
According to a LinkedIn Workplace Culture report, 71 percent of professionals would be willing to take a pay cut in order to work for a company with a mission they believe in or with shared values. Millennials in particular, who now make up the largest portion of the workforce, are highly driven by purpose.
Even more than money, people want to do work that matters—and you can give that to them.
A purpose is created when you can tie the service you provide or the product that you sell—as well as all the other tasks, activities, and things you do as part of your business—to a positive impact that’s made on people.
To help you evaluate whether you’ve created an effective company purpose, I have created a simple purpose checklist. Answer these questions to determine whether you’ve created a purpose that will unify your team and drive results for your business.
Your unified purpose needs to be extremely simple, because it needs to be repeatable. If it’s a long sentence that you can’t remember or say in one breath, that’s not a good idea because ultimately you are going to point everything toward this unified purpose. Keeping it simple makes it easier to connect with.
For Stewardship, my mortgage, insurance, and investment management company, our purpose is “love people through finances”—just four words. The fewer words, the better. It doesn’t even have to be a complete sentence; it can be a simple phrase.
When I first tried creating a unified purpose, I created a mission statement and a vision statement and core values, just like they say to do in business school. I looked up the definition of a steward: “a person who manages another’s property or financial affairs with providence and moral excellence.”
I thought that sounded sophisticated because it had long words, so I created, “Stewardship exists to enrich the lives of Arizona residents by managing their real estate finances with providence and moral excellence.”
Simple? No. Easy to say? Absolutely not. And worst of all, that sounds nothing like me.
As you come up with your unified purpose, don’t overcomplicate it. Don’t worry about using thirty-dollar words. Keeping it simple will make sure it is easy to understand so that when your team is unified around your purpose, it’s clear just what that purpose is.
Your purpose needs to make the world a better place. It has to make an impact on other people. It’s got to be meaningful and helpful. It must work to fix something that is just plain wrong.
This is extremely important because making the world a better place is what makes your purpose unifying. Everyone wants to help others. We all have a desire to make the world a better place. When your unified purpose accomplishes that, it becomes a rallying cry!
The best way to determine if your unified purpose is going to make the world a better place is to ask if it requires sacrifice, selflessness, or serving. If you are going to show up every day in the office and sacrifice your time, energy, and effort to do this thing, it means that you are fundamentally acting in selflessness. You cannot sacrifice without selflessness. And if there’s selflessness, you’re focusing on serving others, which means you’re making an impact on other people.
Your purpose needs to unify your team. Typically, if your purpose requires sacrifice, it will unify them. If they are part of or at least care about the people you serve, that will also help unify your team around your purpose.
Your unified purpose should contain an emotionally charged word. In our purpose statement, it’s the word “love.” As it pertains to the finance industry, that’s a super-weird word to use—and it stands out. It stays with people, creates curiosity, and makes them wonder about our company.
I run an online course about how to create thriving employees—Culture Course—and one of my students is the owner of an insurance company. His first stab at creating his unified purpose was, “My unified purpose is to make an impact on people through insurance.”
Okay, cool. “But what do you really care about?” I asked him. “How do you want to make an impact on people? What are people dealing with that is just plain wrong?
He replied, “I can’t stand it when people are apathetic. I think people should be inspired.”
“There you go!” I affirmed him. “Inspiring is a big, emotionally charged word.”
So he changed it to, “Making an inspiring impact on people through insurance.”
“Great job,” I said, “but can you make it even simpler?”
His unified purpose turned out to be, “Inspiring people through insurance.” I’m a person. I like being inspired. Perfect.
All he did was change one word and simplify the statement, but by looking at what he gets charged up about, an issue that makes him emotional, he nailed it.
This is the most important question to ask. Your unified purpose isn’t just about coming up with words and putting them together. If you don’t really care about it, if it’s not really you as a business owner and leader, people are going to feel that inauthenticity. They’ll know if you’re faking it. Pointing everything toward something you don’t really care about is not going to work.
It is vital to connect the unified purpose of your business with your personal purpose. It can’t be separated; the purpose has to be you.
If you are struggling with this part of your unified purpose, ask yourself a few questions: Does your purpose feel authentic, or does it feel like you’re pretending to be someone else? Say it out loud. Does it sound like you? Does it evoke emotion in you? Is it something you genuinely care about? Read it in front of the mirror, then think back over your life. What are you living for? Does your purpose somehow connect to that? Does fulfilling this unified purpose with your company somehow also help you fulfill your life’s purpose?
Once your purpose can pass this checklist, it will be something your employees can believe in. When they come to work each day, they will feel that they are making the world a better place. And when people feel that their work matters, everyone wins. Your team will feel fulfilled and perform better, leading to more profits for your business and less work for you.
For more advice on creating a unified purpose, you can find The Problem Isn’t Their Paycheck on Amazon.
Grant Botma is the founder of Stewardship and the leader of its nationally ranked team of top producers. Thanks to a thriving company culture, Grant’s team has won numerous awards, including national performance rankings like “Top 1%” and “Top 100.” Grant’s leadership has also grown Stewardship to be an Inc. 5000 Fastest Growing Company In America. He lives in Arizona with his wife, Jodie and their three children, Cambria, Parker, and Ellenie. To learn more about Stewardship, visit moneywellrooted.com.