Why Your Company Needs a Compelling Purpose

Working for the Weekend

One of my favorite movies is Football Factory. It’s a rough, vulgar story of football hooligans in the UK.

The film contrasts how soccer violence is a release from the pressures of work and life. In one biting scene, Rod, the protagonist’s best friend, describes what work really means to him, “Most of the time I just sit around the office waiting for the weekend. Don’t get me wrong, I love the money the job pays. But my real passion lies in [a bunch of bleeps] football.”

The statement, “waiting for the weekend,” has stuck with me. When employees don’t have a compelling purpose there’s a high probability they’re working for the weekend.

A Reason to Work

The biggest value of a compelling purpose is it provides a reason to work.

Lots of people don’t have a defined personal goal for their career. Instead, employees gravitate towards companies and leaders that have a defined vision for the future. The company’s purpose becomes the employee’s purpose. And the employee gains a great deal of pleasure and pride by helping someone else — whether it’s the entrepreneur or the organization — fulfill its purpose.

This may seem like a complex idea, but it’s not. Dan Pink, in his book Drive, demonstrated that people are motivated by three things: autonomy, mastery, and purpose.

  • Autonomy: Give people control over how they work. Let them figure out the best way to get the job done.
  • Mastery: Encourage people to become experts. Help them get better at what they do.
  • Purpose: People thrive when they have a sense of connecting to something bigger than themselves.

Purpose intrigues me, because the organization can provide a compelling purpose. It’s the brand:

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  • What does the brand stand for?
  • What is it trying to achieve?
  • Why should I (the employee) work hard and make it a reality?

A compelling purpose gives a job meaning. It gives everyone on your team a reason to work.

Making Progress Every Day

Pink argues that purpose has two major components:

  • Making a positive contribution to others
  • Making progress every day

The second component — making progress every day — is the interesting one.

The difference between your company’s values and its purpose is progress. Your values are static, but your purpose is a target. Your team is working towards a destination, and they’re struggling to get there. And they need to know their efforts are making a difference.

Purpose is measurable. You can see the impact of your effort. You can see the lives you’re helping. You can see the results of your work. You can see how you’re making progress every day.

When your brand’s purpose is visible, tangible, and measurable it’s highly motivating. It gives your team a reason to stay late, make another call, think deeper, and work harder. It gives them a reason to work.

Your Brand Is Your Purpose

Your brand and your company’s purpose are intrinsically linked.

It’s like a self-fulfilling prophecy. A compelling purpose gives your team a reason to work, and that motivates them to go above and beyond the call of duty. Their efforts in turn make your company shine. Your team’s efforts energize the brand and gives it form and function.

Customers are drawn to people with purpose.