So you’ve begun to work on your core values. Great. Remember that this can take years to finalize. You’ve articulated your vision, i.e. what life looks like when your values are fully realized. Now it’s time to answer another key question: why? Why are you even in business to begin with? Believe it or not the answer to that question and your ability to communicate it well will impact your company in huge ways–including attracting and retaining top talent!
Over the years many consultants and b-schools have emphasized the “mission statement.” Unfortunately many company mission statements are so generic that if you simply changed the name you could use it anywhere to do anything. “X Company exists to deliver superior service and return value to our shareholders while being a great place to work…BLAH, BLAH, BLAH…” Moreover, such statements don’t focus or inspire. Who wants to tell his kids that Daddy delivers superior service, etc.? Who wants to tell her college friends she got a job returning value to shareholders?
Enter the “purpose” or, as I like to say, the “noble cause.” This does not have to be poetic nor does it have to be professionally written. It does need to be clear. It does need to inspire. It does need to touch the heart. It does need to matter.
One of the questions to ask is this: if your company went away tomorrow what difference would it make to your market, your customers, your employees and your community? If the answer is “not much” then you don’t have a noble cause or you’ve failed to realize it.
My company is in the employment business. We provide contingent and contract labor throughout the U.S. as well as management and executive search services. When people ask what we do I answer, “We get people jobs!” with great enthusiasm. I’m proud of what we do. I’m proud of the impact we make in someone’s life and family when we get them work, a higher pay rate, a better position. Our people are inspired by this, work incredibly hard at this and sacrifice a great deal to accomplish this.
Do we provide superior service? We do. Do we return value to our shareholders? We do. Do we have a great place to work? We do. All of this is true but our purpose, our raison d’etre is to get good people good jobs. We express it like this: We change lives one job at a time! That’s why we get up, go to work, and stay together. To do more of that. We will do that for over 100,000 people this week and impact 100,000 households–wives, husbands, children. Wow! I’m getting excited just writing about it!
So what is your Noble Cause?