When I start working with business owners, one of the first things I ask is, ‘What is the purpose of your business?’ In other words, why does the business exist? Surprisingly, this simple question often causes some debate.
This is particularly true where the business is in a lull and the owners feel burdened with the day-to-day pressures of acquiring and keeping new business, managing cashflow, and keeping their team onboard. Yet, if the owners struggle with the purpose of the business, what do their staff make of it?
Anecdotally – and I’d bet if we were to undertake a full research project, statistically – the owners who have difficulty with their business purpose would also say that they have some challenges with team engagement, motivation and performance. It’s fairly obvious that people will give more and perform better when they can connect their role to the company’s purpose.
A simple exercise to boost team engagement
Here’s a quick and easy exercise to see how well your people are engaged with the purpose of the business. In fact, before you try this with your team, it’s worth asking yourself these questions:
1. What is the purpose of this business?
2. How does my role support the purpose of the business?
3. How can I better support the purpose of the business?
Now, get your team in a room, supply them with sticky notes or cards and get them to answer the same three questions, one answer per card. You can do it openly or anonymously, it’s up to you – the important point is to get people involved. The answers you receive are likely to be a mix of confusion, enlightenment and surprise.
If you read any of the material written by people such as Simon Sinek and Daniel Pink in recent years, you will find a strong theme around simple, clear statements of what a business exists to do. When the purpose is articulated in such a clear, simple way, it’s so much easier for everyone in the team to understand what they’re doing and why. This knowledge is powerful. It inspires people to give their best in achieving that common purpose.
Clarifying the purpose of your business
Henchards works with business owners and their teams to clarify what the business is aiming to achieve and the roles of each team member – including the owners – in delivering that goal. Sometimes the obvious isn’t obvious at all, and sometimes assuming that people ‘get it’ leads to problems. That often explains the gap between what owners expect their teams to deliver and what they actually achieve.
If you’re struggling to get your team firing on all cylinders and contributing how and where you want them to contribute, give the above exercise a try. And if you’d like further support to get your team onside, drop us a line.