In my reflection last week I opened the conversation with The Power of Purpose at Work and why you should care. This week I want to continue this conversation and delve a little deeper in the nature of purpose. As I have already pointed out in my previous post, to get the best value from these reflections and to receive deeper insights from them is to read with nothing on your mind. To get behind the written words, even behind their meanings.
The insights that I am talking about are not my insights, they are yours. They emerge from when you go to that space within. A space that sits beyond the distorted view of the intellectual mind and that often gets in the way of insight, creativity and all things great. It’s a space you already know. A space where new and fresh ideas come to light, where solutions to problems seem to just appear. You may experience it in the shower, while driving, while going for a walk or a hike, or while immersed in any other activity that lets your intellectual mind go quiet.
Purpose Driven versus Personal Agenda Driven!
With this in mind, let’s chat about Purpose versus Personal Agenda! A concept I was introduced to many years ago. It first intrigued me and then it inspired me. So what’s behind it? And how does it help you and your business to make change stick?
Let me begin with asking you a couple of questions. Firstly, do you like making a difference in people’s lives? Secondly, do you like making money? On the surface, the answers might seem fairly obvious, right? Silly questions Mike, I can hear you say, of course we like to make a difference and of course we like to make money.
Let’s put the focus of these questions into perspective. Think of a time and place when you went to buy something, a car, a TV or a meal. What was the experience like? Where was the attention of the person that served you? Was it on you or on themselves?
If it was on you, how did that come across? How did it make you feel? How connected did you feel with that person and their business? How compelled did you feel to do business with them?
If it was on themselves, how did you experience that scenario? How compelled did you feel to engage and do business with them?
The difference in experience could be the difference between being focused on delighting customers, solving their problems and taking care of them. That’s PURPOSE! Or being focused on reaching targets, making sales and meeting key performance indicators. That’s PERSONAL AGENDA!
Now, there is nothing wrong with having a personal agenda, on the contrary. It’s vital part of maintaining your operation. However, when our Personal Agenda is in the forefront of our mind, it’s all about us. Here we can easily disconnect with the very people that pay our wages and our rents, our customers. They don’t feel the love!
On the flipside, when PURPOSE rules the roost, it’s all about the people that we serve. When purpose is your dominant force, your personal agenda is running in the background, taking on a support role.
This shows up in every fibre of your being. In the way you think, in the way you speak, the way you behave and the way you act. It’s contagious! It connects with the outside world. It feels the love!
How does it contribute to making change stick?
“Purpose driven = how can I serve? Personal agenda driven = what’s in it for me?
Organisations are generally run by people. People with lack of meaningfulness in their work disconnect. The default to their personal agenda with a “What’s in it for me attitude!” They focus on the negatives and look for faults. They stressed and often resentful for not being heard and valued. Organisations that are only personal agenda driven often lack a clear vision, a meaningful reason and leadership that entices its people to feel inspired and support its cause. It keeps people in the dark and forces change on them which causes resistance to that change.
Purpose driven organisations have an embodied understanding WHY they exist. They generally stand for something beyond generating sales, meeting targets and saving costs. They truly want to make a meaningful difference to their staff, their customers and the wider community. When that meaningful difference is projected into the workplace culture it creates a spirit that people want to be part of, staff and customers alike. They provide an environment that gives meaning to people. They feel drawn to it. Staff wants to serve and customers want to buy in this environment.
Purpose driven people and organisation focus on “Who and how can I serve?” Agenda driven people and organisations focus on “What’s in it for me?”
Caution: Personal Agenda dressed up as False Purpose. Many organisations talk about purpose but act personal agenda. They talk about people as their greatest asset and customers first. Yet their focus is on the bottom lines and targets. There is a disconnection from the human aspect. It feels forced. The potential of its people that it calls its greatest asset is often underutilised or ignored. And their customers are just seen as a money making opportunity. That may work in the short term but does nothing for its long term sustainability!
So where do we start to develop a Purpose Driven Organisation?
“Personal Agenda + Purpose = Purpose!”
It starts with bringing meaningfulness to what you do as an organisation and share this meaningfulness throughout your organisation. Talk is cheap. Do not just talk about meaningfulness. Walk you talk, from the top down and from the bottom up. Bring it to life. Let it show up in your thinking, in the way you speak, in the way you behave and in the way you act.
Here are some highly technical and complex techniques to start the process … are you ready? Here they are …
“Say hello to each other and with a genuine smile that reaches your eyes. Say thank you for contributing and helping for doing their job, no matter how small. Allow people to be people, give them room to do their work … AVOID micro managing, especially when you have highly competent people working for you, it’s annoying … to them!. Micro managing tells more about you then them.”
You may think this seems obvious. Yet so many businesses focus on the BIGGER stuff and fail to connect at the ground floor. Try it and see what happens. People go out of their way when they are treated as human beings!
When purpose is at work people want to be part of the journey. It is inspirational. They believe in what the organisation stands for and what it is trying to achieve. It’s transformational!
Let me finish with a metaphor.
“We buy great coffee, not the coffee cup it is served in!”
In Australia we have a coffee culture. There are coffee shops all over the place. We appreciate great coffee. We don’t buy coffee for the cup it is served in. We buy the coffee for its quality and the experience that it gives us. And if it comes with great service the better!
How many businesses do you know that serve a distasteful brew and that are trying to sell you their fancy cups? And then wondering why customers make a beeline around them?
Here is the thing. Firstly, what is your coffee and how well do you make it? Purpose driven organisation not only make great coffee, THEY ARE the great coffee!
What is the quality of your coffee? The answer is with your people and your customers! In the way you serve with them and for them!
To your highest and best
About Mike Schwarzer
Mike is a Transformation Professional and an Internationally Certified Trainer in Applied Neuro Synergy & NLP with the Global Association of Applied Neuro Synergy, GAANS. An experienced facilitator and coach, with an ability to connect and align people, he helps leaders and organisations to solve the problems that they have not been able to solve elsewhere and create the results they want to achieve.