Several weeks ago, I published a post titled, “Company Purpose and Passion Are Always Changing.” The post focused on organizations engaging employees by making a connection between their work and the company’s purpose. Employees want to see how their work impacts the organization and customers.
A Facebook reader sent me a note. I’ll paraphrase it. “Senior management doesn’t want sappy conversations about purpose and passion. They want immediate action and immediate results.” I totally agree that management wants action and results. No question about it.
And some managers might not want “sappy” conversations. I get it. But I do believe that managers want to talk about company purpose and passion. The question becomes, are managers talking about it directly? Here are a couple of examples:
Human resources conveys company purpose and passion in the candidate experience. I’ve seen a couple of articles lately talking about whether or not organizations benefit from having a human resources department. Fast Company published a piece about the challenges of replacing HR with software. And Chris Fields wrote a piece on the difficulties with outsourcing HR. They’re both good reads. The reason I mention these articles is because, often, HR is given the task of communicating company purpose and passion.
So senior management might not be directly discussing purpose and passion. But they are on display in a career portal, discussed during job interviews, and incorporated into onboarding programs. Candidates want to know what kind of company they’re applying to and going to work for. Purpose and passion answer the question.
Managers use different words to explain the concepts of purpose and passion. It’s possible that instead of managers saying:
“It’s our company’s purpose to …”
“Our company’s passion is to …”
They say, “Our goal is to …” and “Our strategy is …”
Because purpose and passion ARE about results. President Obama, in a commencement address at Howard University said, “Passion isn’t enough; you have to have strategy.” While the statement was made in the context of being an active citizen and participant in community activities, the statement has value in business. Because, for passion to be valuable, it must be combined with action.
Regardless of whether managers are using the words, I believe that business leaders are talking about purpose and passion. It’s how they communicate strategy. And the messaging happens pre- and post-hire. However, with any kind of messaging it’s important to remember that it must be delivered in an authentic and transparent manner using mediums that the audience will embrace.
Image taken by Sharlyn Lauby after speaking at the Flora Icelandic HR Management Conference in Reykjavik, Iceland3