Bringing emotion into the mix
While your people may now be able to see and understand and buy the logic of all of these goals and objectives and measures, have they yet been inspired by all of this enough to give their heart and souls to achieving your vision? Perhaps not. For this, we often have to turn to the left half of the framework, and provide an inspiring mission or purpose.
All too often, working in very different businesses, I’ve seen the difference between the willingness of employees who are inspired by the organization’s purpose statement and those who are not. Those who are truly inspired do more, try harder, are more collaborative, more willing to make positive suggestions to improve performance, and are even more likely to recommend your company to friends and colleagues as a good employer. These people will do things for the company even if it is not expected of them: they’ll stay later at work, they’ll pitch in and help colleagues even when they don’t ask for help, and they’ll provide you with ideas that could transform your performance. For this reason an inspiring purpose is an incredibly valuable asset.
Element 4. Purpose
This statement should be focused on your customers or consumers. What would be lost if your company or your team ceased to exist? Why is it important that you continue to exist? What do you do that makes a difference to the people you serve? Does this enhance their lives in some way?
I believe that a mission or purpose statement needs to highlight a customer or consumer benefit. After all, it is for them that you exist and it is by them that you are paid. Unless you make your mission statement important to them, why would anyone find it compelling? In the previous chapter I showed how it was customers who are most inspiring to employees. Bring the customer in, let employees experience how delighted customers talk about your products and services, and your levels of engagement and productivity will increase. That’s why this purpose statement needs to reflect that customer perspective, even if your customers are colleagues in other departments of your company who depend on you to get their jobs done.
The best mission statements that I have seen are always short, easy to remember and distinctive. Most of the best ones that I have seen are around 15 words long. The very best are around eight words long. They must be easy to understand and credible, and must highlight the key customer benefit that you deliver. While you may change your vision and set higher and even more ambitious goals, while your priorities may change as competitive threats grow, your purpose will always remain constant. A constancy of purpose allows you to change many other elements of the framework and still be consistent.
Is your purpose statement written down? If it isn’t written down it cannot be shared consistently across the organization. Is it real? Does it help you to define and optimize all decisions? Is it simple?
Most important of all, does it resonate with every employee in your organization? Do they feel connected to this purpose and agree that it is important?
Let me give you a few examples.
· Glaxo Smith Kline (a global pharmaceutical and healthcare company) – To improve the quality of human life by enabling people to do more, feel better and live longer. (18 words)
· Walt Disney Parks and Resorts (amusement parks) – To give our guests opportunities to create memories with their friends, families and loved ones that will last forever. (19 words)
· Amazon (online store) – To be earth’s most customer centric company; to build a place where people can come to find and discover anything they might want to buy online. (26 words)
· Facebook’s mission is – To make the world more open and connected. (Eight words)
· Google’s mission is – To organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful. (12 words)
· Nike (sports clothing) – To bring inspiration and innovation to every athlete in the world. If you have a body, you are an athlete. (20 words)
Clients I have worked with have the following purpose statements:
· HSL (The Health and Safety Laboratories) – To enable a better working Britain. (Six words)
· Gazprom Marketing and Trading (an energy trading business) – The energy to succeed. (Four words)
· SAB Miller Europe (a beer business) – To brew more great moments. (Five words)
Here are the purpose statements of some well-known non-profit organizations.
· Save the children – To inspire breakthroughs in the way the world treats children and to achieve immediate and lasting change in their lives. (20 words)
· The Red Cross (a volunteer-led humanitarian organization) – To help people in crisis, whoever and wherever they are. (10 words)
· Oxfam (an international federation helping people in poverty) – To help create lasting solutions to the injustice of poverty. (10 words)
If you struggle to get your purpose statement to less than 15 words, you should consider mimicking some of the world’s most memorable slogans – which have the great virtue of being distinctive, short, and highly memorable.
Do you remember any of these?
· When it absolutely positively has to be there overnight – FedEx.
· The Ultimate Driving Machine – BMW.
· All the News That’s Fit to Print – New York Times.
· Does Exactly What It Says on the Tin – Ronseal.
· We Try Harder – Avis.
· Never Knowingly Undersold – John Lewis.
· The Appliance of Science – Zanussi.
The slogans brilliantly differentiate their companies from competitors while simultaneously summarizing what they stand for. They have catchy phrasing and are easy to remember – and should act as a good prompt for you when making your purpose statement just as effective. They all deliver a powerful customer benefit.
Finally, does your purpose articulate your mission in a way that shows you are a force for good in society?
When I went through hundreds of company mission statements recently, I found a depressing trend for many of them to state that their purpose was ‘to maximize shareholder value’. These were companies that were as diverse as you could imagine – from entertainment businesses to mining companies, from motor manufacturers to pharmaceutical companies. They all had the same purpose. How dull.
While this is obviously vital to their continued ability to raise capital, and is the reason their shareholders invest in them, I believe that maximizing shareholder value is a measure of their success in delivering their purpose, not their purpose for existing. If they do what they do brilliantly, then they will satisfy their customers, keep their stakeholders happy and supportive, integrate with the communities in which they operate, maintain their licence to operate, and because of all of this, continue to grow and prosper. This is what will provide sustainable shareholder value.
In today’s world, you need to have a purpose wider than profit. People expect more of business. Transparency has changed everything and leaders must take more time to explain the benefits of their endeavours and show why they are a force for good.
John Connolly, Chairman of global security company G4S, says:
‘I believe that we have come to a stage where we have now to imagine a new definition of the purpose of business. What is it for? There has to be more of a focus on long-term sustainable success. It is only if you think long-term that you build more value in your business. You cannot sustain your business in an environment, either social or physical, that does not have a future.’
Ben Verwaayen, former Chief Executive of Alcatel Lucent, a global telecommunications Corporation, says that using ‘growing earnings per share’ as a purpose statement is irrelevant to the vast majority of employees:
‘You need to give them something that is inspiring and is relevant throughout the organization. Allied to this is the need to set the tone from the top with all the right values. Together, these two elements will give people enough freedom to add their own intelligence and creativity to what they need to do.’
Element 5. Values
Leaders with a strong set of values built on honesty and openness and respect for other people are often seen as the most inspirational. Shared values enable trust and liberate employees to be leaders; they can then take action within a framework that enables speed, creativity and agility. Values that are truly lived can also create competitive differentiation. The way your people act with the ‘customers’, whoever they are, says more about you than all the words you ever utter.
Take care to define, and live, the values that you want – delivered in the daily behaviours of your team. These intangible values – often dismissed as ‘soft and fluffy’ – translate into actions on the ground, which then translate into hard numbers in the books.
For this reason values must be measured for impact; and leaders should ensure that people who don’t live up to them should shape up or ship out.
However, defining your values must start with understanding your behaviours. Your behaviours – the ways you do things around here – are your culture. Your culture is driven by your beliefs and values. My suggestion is that you start with behaviours, in order to define the values that you hold important. For example, if people in your team regularly arrive late for work, then you clearly do not value timeliness. Otherwise, you would have made it clear to them that this was unacceptable behaviour. Equally, if all of your staff regularly display behaviours that demonstrate care and consideration for customers, above and beyond normally defined duties, then you clearly have a deep value about delivering best service to customers. If members from different teams often work together on new and different projects, then collaboration is a deep-rooted value.
Most companies I have worked with limit their core values to between four and six. Each of those values, however, may contain four or more desired behaviours. So, start first with the behaviours section of the framework, and capture what those behaviours really mean about your belief system in your values.
Element 6. Behaviours (beliefs in action)
The key questions to ask here are very simple: what things do we do around here that we absolutely must not stop doing, because they are essential to our success? What do we do around here only sometimes that we should be doing a lot more, and why don’t we? What do we never do around here that would make a huge difference to our success, and why don’t we do it? What do we do really badly around here that we should stop as soon as we can, and why don’t we stop it?
If you asked these questions in every part of your organization, you would be doing a behaviours audit, and you’d be uncovering a lot of actionable information about behaviours that either help or hinder your success. If you have a new strategy, then you will most likely need to encourage some new behaviours, while retaining some of the old ones that have underpinned your success. Why? Because a new strategy inevitably requires new and different behaviours, and those new behaviours will be driven by new beliefs and values.
Beware of embarking on a new strategy without revisiting your values! The behaviours that are driven by your values will determine whether you achieve your objectives, and ultimately your vision. So it is worth spending time thinking about these behaviours and making sure that you are happy with the ones that prevail at the moment. When you talk with your people about current and desired behaviours, you will usually find that these fit into three camps (see Figure 5.3).
· Ideal – what people would like them to be in an ideal culture.
· Real – those that are exhibited now, good, bad and indifferent.
· Needed – the behaviours you need to instil in order to achieve new objectives.
The sweet spot is where these three circles overlap. This is how you bring together ‘a nice place to work’ with a ‘high-performance culture’. You need to have a mix of all three.
Of course if you are not committed to your values and the behaviours that derive from those values, then you will quickly render your values empty words, alive only on posters on the wall. Very often employees are simply not aware of the values of the organization. Sometimes they are aware of them, but nobody reinforces them or measures them against those values. Most of all, little thought has been given to incentivizing people to the right behaviours. Finally, many values exercises are rendered impotent when staff see hypocrisy at work in the values. The blame here is often laid on senior managers who, staff claim, have one rule for themselves and one rule for others.
Organizational values provide a template for the behaviours of the organization, and leaders should put in place minimal acceptable standards of behaviour. Values must be lived by people at all levels, from the board to the front line. Failure to behave in accordance with the values should always have real consequences. Values stem from your beliefs, and your beliefs drive your actions. Your behaviours are your beliefs in action.