As Jim Clifton noted in a recent episode of the Blanchard LeaderChat Podcast (which, if you don’t already listen to it, we highly recommend), just a few generations ago, the American Dream was to get married, have kids, and own a home, all of which required a well-paying job. But it didn’t actually matter what the job was. Satisfaction or fulfillment from work wasn’t a thing that people really talked about, because you were supposed to get all your satisfaction and fulfillment from your life outside of work – your job was simply what enabled that happiness.
But now, clearly, things have changed. For the most part, we all want satisfaction and fulfillment in our home lives and in our work lives. We want to have jobs that align with our interests, our values, and our sense of purpose. We want to feel that we are contributing to the world in some meaningful way.
That’s why it has become so important for organizations to have a clear mission beyond simply maximizing profits. Of course, that goal (lots of money) is still sufficient for some employees, but most of us want to work for organizations that offer some sort of benefit to the world.
The first step to getting your employees on board with your organizational goals is actually having clear company goals. Organization goal setting usually starts at the top, but ideally it should involve the whole company. The board of directors may have very specific ideas when it comes to company goal planning, but if the people who actually keep the company running don’t have a say in what the company stands for, that disconnect is likely to lead to a dysfunctional work culture.
If your company has already been through the organization goal setting process, the next step is ensuring that your employees are aware of those goals, and that awareness comes in two forms. One, organizational goals should be clearly and regularly communicated to employees beginning with the onboarding process. And two, the goals of the organization need to be enacted in meaningful ways.
A goal isn’t really a goal if it doesn’t have an action assigned to it. For example, I can say that my goal is to run a marathon, but if I never go outside or get on a treadmill and start running, it’s not a real goal. Likewise, it’s all well and good for a company to say that it wants to celebrate its diversity, but if the company doesn’t take any tangible steps to do that, the words are meaningless.
The last step to help employees get onboard with company goals is to show them what their part is in enacting those goals. If employees simply feel like a cog in the machine, they won’t be engaged by their work. But if each position has a clear role in helping the company achieve its mission, that will help foster a sense of community and purpose.
And doing this shouldn’t be hard, because every employee already serves a function in your business – if they didn’t, you wouldn’t employ them. Therefore, the trick isn’t to make up some meaningful purpose for each job but rather to take the time to recognize and appreciate the purpose that is already being served.
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