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    August 28, 2023

    Connecting Purpose to Goals

    Hopefully your company has a clear purpose statement and one that everyone is familiar with. But companies need more than a purpose statement. That purpose must be connected back to goals to be impactful. HR, in its role, can help make this connection.

    Too often we see statements about goals that don’t resonate with our workforce. As an example, having affinity groups is great. They show that the company honors and celebrates diversity throughout the company. However, if there is no measurable impact, that means there is a misalignment between statements and outcomes. The company can advocate for a working environment that is both mentally and physically healthy for everyone, however, without goals and measurement, the message may be meaningless.

    HR is uniquely positioned to understand how a purpose statement is interpreted by new hires as well as those that have been with the company for years. Annual reviews can include questions about the company’s purpose and get feedback to see if there is alignment. Within an HR team, it’s worth taking the time to see if HR goals are specifically aligned with the purpose statement, or statements, of the organization.  

    Your organization’s purpose statement should be part of the overall mission statement. It is a three-pronged approach:

    • Purpose: An explanation of the organization's reason for existing.
    • Vision: A description of what the organization wants to achieve in the future.
    • Values: A list of the core values that guide the organization's behavior and decisions.

    Without a clear purpose, the vision and values are less meaningful to the people who work there.  Here are some definitions of the word purpose:

    • The reason for which something is done or created or for which something exists.
    • Resolution, determination.

    How does the noun purpose contrast with its other meanings? Some common synonyms of purpose are aim, design, end, goal, intention, intent, objective, and object. All these words mean "what one intends to accomplish or attain," but purpose suggests a more settled determination. Purpose is the “why “of doing anything, personally or professionally.

    Once there is a clear understanding of purpose in an organization, then it can be tied more clearly to the overall goals of the company.  

    What You Can Do

    • Find out if everyone in HR is clear about purpose and how it connects to the overall goals of the organization.
    • Once clear with the HR team, see if there is the same clear understanding with managers at all levels in the company. If there is, that shows that communicating and living out purpose is happening. If not, then it is time to dig deeper to find out where the disconnect is happening.
    • Share findings with the C-Suite. If there is a clear connection around purpose, that is a great message to share. If there is not, then the information can be positioned as an opportunity to build a stronger work culture.
    • Define what an inspired workforce means to your leadership.
    • If you can find one positive example in your organization—a person, a team, a unit—you can use their story to inspire others. Look for excellence, examine the purpose that drives the excellence, and then imagine it across your entire workforce.
    • Understand what may need to be learned or unlearned to better connection purpose to goals.
    • Is the purpose statement viewed by all employees as authentic? No matter how well crafted a statement, if it is viewed as lip service by employees, it will have little to no impact.

    HR can lead the way in connecting purpose to goals. Taking the time to do this right can mean creating a working environment that better attracts and retains the talent you need.

    “Companies that execute with purpose have greater odds of creating significant long-term value generation, which can lead to stronger financial performance, increased employee engagement, and higher customer trust.” McKinsey and Company, 2022 Report

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