What one thing could transform trust and loyalty in your business?
The business benefits of a clear, inspiring sense of purpose are well documented. It gives every person in your organisation clarity and confidence, and a compelling reason to come to work every day. And that leads to higher engagement, productivity and retention.
Given the vast majority of employees globally are unsatisfied with their work or simply don’t care according to Gallup’s annual poll (as many as 85 per cent in 20171) – this can significantly impact internal collaboration, as well as customer experience.
But how do you find your ‘why’? If you’ve ever tried to articulate it, you’ll know it’s not as simple as it sounds.
We were fortunate to hear from Start With Why’s David Mead at Macquarie’s Perspective event. Over 400 business leaders gathered in Sydney to hear new perspectives on why purpose matters – and what it could mean to the future of your business.
Put purpose before results, people before numbers
David urged us to step back from the “hamster wheel” of work that focuses on metric returns: action, result, repeat. Instead, we need to find the meaning we instinctively seek as human beings.
“You don’t have to quit your job to find meaning and purpose. You just need to look at it with a different perspective,” he said.
According to David, organisations who get this right command greater loyalty within and outside their organisation. They have a greater capacity to inspire – and they’re more profitable over the long term.
“They think, act and communicate differently,” he emphasised.
Starting with your why
So how do you find that why – and ensure it resonates across your organisation and customer base?
You know what you do – your product or service, or as an individual your role or title. And you may know how you do it – what sets you apart, your core values. But your why goes to the heart of the contribution you make to peoples’ lives. What is the human need for your work? Why does your organisation exist?
“Inspired organisations communicate from the inside out, by talking about what they believe in,” said David. He suggests asking teams to share stories about what makes them proud to work there, and how it represented who you are at your best as an organisation.
Once you find your why, it can take time to see material change. “It’s a long-term approach – you need to do things consistently, day after day, to bring the why to life,” he explained.
But it can also open your business up to many more ‘whats’. For example, if your purpose is to be an accountant, that might limit your scope to tax advisory and bookkeeping. But if it’s to empower people to take control of their work or life decisions, that broadens your service offering considerably.
Elon Musk’s incredibly diverse business interests – from Tesla to SpaceX via an experimental school and The Boring Co., all have a common purpose: to create a happy and sustainable future for humanity.
“For real estate agencies, real estate is your ‘what,’” he explained. “Your why might be providing a better future, or improved quality of life for those you serve.”
With purpose, comes trust and loyalty
Holly Ransom, CEO of Emergent, put the case for linking that strong purpose to greater trust in her keynote at Perspective. With trust in media, NGOs, business and government now at five year lows, according to the Edelman Trust Barometer,2 she is seeing a crisis in trust.
“We haven’t arrived here by accident. Trust is at an all-time low across every sector,” she said. “People no longer trust what businesses say about themselves – they seek information about genuine real life experiences to make their decision.”
There is also a growing movement of ‘belief-driven’ buyers3 who will pay more or advocate for a brand that speaks out on a social or political issue they believe in.
This only happens if your organisation’s purpose aligns with that of your target audience. “When your ‘why’ matches that of your consumers and employees, you achieve higher engagement,” said Holly.
She suggested looking at how your business measures on the trust equation – particularly for the two areas consumers rank as most important: reliability and intimacy.
“Look for areas of improvement in every aspect and discuss behaviours with your team. What will you stop doing? What no longer serves your customers and business? What behaviours do you need to activate to bring your purpose to life?”
This ensures your purpose is authentic. “What we say and do has to be consistent with what we believe,” said David.
He added that trust is a feeling, not an instruction – and everything humans have ever achieved has been a result of trust and collaboration.
“A common ‘what’ is not what ties people together,” he said. “’Why’ is where loyalty comes from.”