Values and purpose combine to create mission. Values are the common beliefs that knit a culture together, whether country, church, non-profit, or business – the U.S. Marines are a fabulous example. Purpose is the “product” people create together plus the difference it makes in the marketplace (or on the battlefield).
People Make The Difference.
One of business leadership’s key challenges today is to increase the productivity of its human resources, to give people a new vision of themselves -- and their potential -- while maximizing their combined contribution. Values are the qualities that meld people into a team. They help make success happen. It’s the cultural part of “work” that gets folks up in the morning and charges their batteries.
As Adam Smith suggested over 200 years ago, it is the participation of individuals working in their own and the collective self-interest that makes capitalism work so well. At its best, capitalism creates personal freedom as well as profits and seems to work most effectively for both people and businesses when there is a comfortable convergence of personal and business goals. What gives meaning to forging tools or making T-shirts? Or to a non-profit cause? Realization that the collective purpose is worthwhile. Herbert Hoover called it a “lifting purpose.”
Most people don’t want to just work. They want to contribute; they want to be part of something. It’s eye-opening to realize, even today, that work often has nothing to do with “real” life. All too many of us live for the weekend and count the days ‘til vacation time rolls around.
If the unproductive and uninspired workers in our country -- never mind an unfortunate percentage of students in our schools -- could be given hope, could be empowered to contribute beyond the ordinary, beyond the constraints of their “jobs”, the productivity transformation within America could be incredible.
I have seen companies with strong, can-do manufacturing cultures and weak management but seldom the reverse. I have seen retailers selling great brands who have created (or allowed) a depressing, discouraging atmosphere for their people to work in but also great cultures where people have worked together to transform a good brand into a great one.
I also have seen retailers who sell essentially the same mix of products as their competitors but set themselves apart by hiring people who care, aren’t shy about showing it and who are given the freedom to make service decisions at the customer contact level. Robin, the young woman who used to answer the phone for one of my clients years ago, always made a positive impression. Her upbeat attitude and willingness to serve reflected the attitude of her company's management, their manufacturing excellence and their product superiority. In contrast, companies that choose to have a machine answer their phone communicate the opposite message: “We don’t care enough to put our very best people on the business end of your inquiry, so your call is not really all that important to us.”
In conclusion, values and purpose are intimately connected in an organization’s mission. Values is the why part, the reason people come to work charged up about their potential contribution. Purpose is the product part, whether a manufactured item, a variety of essentially off-the-shelf components integrated into something new or selling things like smart phones or cars, groceries, medical supplies or personal services. It includes everything that makes success happen, from strategy to marketing to customer /client contact to manufacturing and those all-important support functions that keep things running smoothly.
People who are energized about coming to work every day create great products and provide great service, competitive qualities your present and future customers or clients won’t be able to find anywhere else.
TakeAway: Take a look at your mission through the business donut hole. Do you see a team looking back at you that cares deeply about your products and customers and has the freedom and energy to help you create a future charged with success?
Content © by Brian E. Faulkner