Leveraging Purpose, Mission, and Values
There are many factors that come into play when planning successful organizational change. One of the most challenging to define and communicate is purpose: The purpose of the change itself, as well as how it aligns with the purpose of the organization. As I discussed in a recent blog post, purpose focuses on the deep root of behavior—not how things are done, but why they are done—which is part of what makes it so difficult to articulate effectively.
Organizations who have established a strong workplace culture are those who have an authentic and well-communicated purpose beyond recognition or profit. They communicate and drive this purpose through their intentionally-crafted mission statement and organizational values. In a recent blog post, David Shanklin, a Great Place to Work® Consultant, described values as "the baseline contract between all members of the organization: leaders and employees alike." These values "serve as the shared commitment each employee makes to one another about how they will behave and make decisions, so leader and employee behaviors become predictable."
But effective values as Shanklin describes them don't appear on their own, and organizations who depend on them to emerge organically from their culture are left waiting. The process of creating authentic values requires a high level of commitment and intentionality from leaders. Once values are established leaders must live the values, embracing them so that employees have examples after which to model their own behavior. When this occurs, behavior across the organization becomes predictable and trust is able to grow within the workplace.
Examples from a Best Company: Snagajob
Snagajob, a best company on our 50 Best Small and Medium Workplaces list, uses their mission and values to drive their purpose as an organization. Featured clearly on their website is the Snagajob mission: "To put people in the right-fit positions so they can maximize their potential and live more fulfilling lives." From a potential employee's first contact with the company, all the way through their career, Snagers know the purpose their work serves, and thanks to the clear values that accompany the mission they know just how to bring this purpose to life. According to the company website the three core values at Snagajob are:
- Collaborative: Acting as one team. Helping each other succeed. Being thoughtfully candid. Building trust. Checking our egos at the door.
"I love how open and accessible the entire Snagger family is. All office doors are open all the time, and everyone (at every level of the organization) is approachable and helpful.
- Chris, Interaction Designer
- Accountable: Having integrity. Rising to the challenge. Acting with urgency. Meeting our commitments. Owning our results.
"Being in sales, my entire day is structured around accountability. I'm accountable to the employers I work with, the job seekers applying for the jobs I get on the site, all of my coworkers depending on me to hit my quota and my own, personal goals. The accountability I feel drives my success at every level.
- Jack, FAE
- Passionate: Having noble goals. Believing we can. Showing we care. Being the best we can be. Making it fun
"One of the greatest feelings is when job seekers who were in trouble – whether they're a single parent, a struggling student, or just someone in need of some extra money – contacts us to let us know that they got a job using our website. While the profit line is always great, helping someone out in the time of need is even better. I enjoy working at a place where I can help make a difference in someone's life. It makes the sometimes long hours and hard work well worth it.
- Jessica, Executive Assistant
Snagajob proudly states that their mission and values are truly the foundation of everything they do. This commitment and alignment from the top of the organization shows Snagers how important the purpose of their work is, and sets a high standard for accountability across the organization. When leaders make living the values a high priority, employees are more likely to understand the behavior expected of them, and how that behavior is designed to serve the purpose of the organization. This clarity and consistency allows organizations like Snagajob to build a truly great workplace.
Hear firsthand from Snagajob about how they achieve their great workplace in the opening keynote of the Great Place to Work® Small and Medium Business Conference on October 20th in Seattle, where CEO Peter Harrison will talk about Culture, Values and the Triple Line. See the session description and read more about the conference here on our conference website.