Create purpose-driven goals

The new year is soon upon us. With that, individuals often create their New Year’s resolutions and organisations start their goal setting process. Applying the SMART approach to defining goals is nowadays standard. Still, we see employees working towards these objectives like a check box activities. Could purpose-driven goals make a difference?

The purpose-driven generation

Millennials in particular are seen as a purpose-driven generation. Not seeing an alignment between their company’s mission and their personal ones can lead Millennials to resign. The Deloitte Global Millennial Survey 2019 has seen “strong correlations between those who plan to stay in their current jobs and those who said their companies deliver best on financial performance, community impact, talent development, and diversity and inclusion.”

While purpose-driven goals can be used as a retention tool for Millennials and Gen Z, other generations can’t be ignored. Other generations don’t simply view their role as an income-generating activity anymore and are also thriving towards a connection of organisational and personal goals. For them, Simon Sinek’s famous why question is just as important as it is for Millennials.

The link between companies and individuals

Although goals should still follow the SMART approach, it’s time they also include the purpose of this objective. Individuals will be able to work towards specific and realistic goals in a more determined way when they understand the rationale or “why” behind it.

Larry Fink, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Blackrock, outlined in his annual letter to CEOs the importance of understanding and expressing its purpose:

“Companies that fulfil their purpose and responsibilities to stakeholders reap rewards over the long-term. Companies that ignore them stumble and fail. This dynamic is becoming increasingly apparent as the public holds companies to more exacting standards. And it will continue to accelerate as millennials – who today represent 35 percent of the workforce – express new expectations of the companies they work for, buy from, and invest in.”

Purpose powers performance

Individuals can prioritise their daily actions to achieving their purpose-driven goals, which in return leads them to create habits. This will also impact the culture of the organisation and companies can see a change in improved attraction, engagement and retention as described in Harvard Business Review’s “Creating a Purpose-Driven Organization”.

Consider the purpose of your organisation, department and team. How will that mission be connected with the individual employee?

Cases in the pharmaceutical field highlight how changing patients’ lives can motivate and inspire the individual employee. In 2014, Ludwig Hantson, CEO of Baxalta, a spin off from Baxter, followed the mission of rapidly developing innovative products (“Science for a better Life”) and created a purpose-driven leadership for his top 200 leaders. During a 12-month-long strategic and cultural transformation, he reconfirmed that purpose powers performance.

Patagonia has been long recognised as a leader in connecting its mission with that of its employees. Amongst its four core values is building the best product:

“Our criteria for the best product rests on function, repairability, and, foremost, durability. Among the most direct ways we can limit ecological impacts is with goods that last for generations or can be recycled so the materials in them remain in use. Making the best product matters for saving the planet.”

Managers can see their daily work impact the organisation’s mission and are able to articulate their purpose to the team. Willis Towers Watson outlined in this following example how employees can contribute to the company’s purpose:

  • “Be really good at their jobs by serving their immediate constituents (i.e., customers, other employees, owners, etc.) to deliver on our promise/purpose
  • Focus on the results (both long- and short-term) we need to achieve to sustain our market position, remain a viable organisation, and continue live out our purpose
  • Demonstrate behaviours that exemplify our values every day and in every way. These include:
    • Collaborate and team effectively
    • Be open and inclusive to all views ensuring we get the best ideas moving forward
    • Act with integrity and honesty
    • Learn by doing and teach others no matter where you sit
    • Balance risk with agility with the aspiration that decisions are made a the appropriate pace to the need and circumstances”

As organisations are struggling to create and consequently benefit from high-performing teams, Korn Ferry has looked into purpose and its link to performance. Purpose is energising, motivating and inspiring. It will take performance to new levels. Isn’t that what we all want when setting objectives?

Start your purpose-driven performance today and benefit from a highly engaged workforce. Contact us and find out how we can help you create high performing teams with purpose-driven goals.

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