Some employees feel fully inspired by their company’s mission, vision, and values. But they don’t just mindlessly glug the Kool-Aid—they connect on a deep, genuine, emotional level with what their employer is all about and what they seek to accomplish. Those workers are becoming increasingly rare.
Most employees aren’t fully aware of—or connected with—their company’s purpose. Shockingly, the state of employee disengagement is that a staggering 61% of employees don’t even know their company’s mission statement. What’s more, of those who are familiar with their company’s mission, 57% are not motivated by it.
So it’s not surprising that many professionals question their role in the bigger picture, feeling like a cog in a wheel without a deeper connection. For many, it’s not realistic to quit their job and immediately get hired at a company whose mission and values are inspiring to them. Nor is it realistic to think that everyone can stop working for the man (or the ma’am) to pursue their greatest passion as a career.
The good news is that you can connect your purpose with your work almost anywhere you’re planted. By identifying the values that matter to you and understanding those of your organization, connections will emerge.
The key is to get clear about yourself, your role and your company, and then look for that ultimate Venn diagram intersect set. That means you first must be self-aware, which is also an essential first step in building an authentic personal brand. It’s odd and kind of sad that we often don’t know ourselves very well. That’s because we rarely spend time being introspective; our lives are filled with outward activities, so we don’t regularly make time to check in with ourselves.
1. Before focusing on your company, get clear on what’s important to you.
These powerful questions will help:
- What’s my greatest passion?
- What are my operating principles—the values that impact how I act, feel and behave?
- What quality in others do I admire the most?
- What situation makes me feel angriest or most annoyed? Usually, when you exhibit these emotions, it’s because a value of yours is being violated. What’s the value behind that emotion?
- What world problem would I most like to see solved?
- What are the three most important elements of a life filled with joy?
My purpose is to help professionals reach their highest potential, leading them to deliver value far beyond what they thought they could. My personal branding business is completely aligned with my purpose.
But before I jumped ship, I was still able to live my purpose every day. I did so by helping develop my staff. Although I worked in corporate branding (which I loved), the part of my job that gave me the most joy and fulfillment was in seeing my staff do amazing things and supporting them as they did it.
2. Next, get clear on your company’s mission, vision, and values.
Most companies post these on their internal and external website. But what’s listed in the glossy brochure for new hires isn’t always consistent with what’s happening inside the organization. So pay attention to your company culture and document what you believe are the true mission, vision, and values of the organization.
Then, look for intersections between what you distilled from your responses in Step 1 and what you recorded about your company. Let’s be clear: There is never going to be a perfect match between your values and the values of your company—unless of course, you are the CEO of your company. But there are clearly going to be connections between the two. Look for those connections. And don’t ignore connections that aren’t a perfect match. If your company values building relationships, and your top value is empathy, there’s a solid connection there because empathy is essential for forming and nurturing relationships.
I worked with a woman in sales in the healthcare industry. On paper, she was really successful but felt no connection to her company. She told me that even though it was never written anywhere, the number one value of the company was competition and the only purpose she could infer from the behavior she witnessed was “to make the most profit possible.”
One sign of how competitive the culture felt is that no one would leave the office at the end of the day before the senior leaders left—even if they had no pressing work to do. She chose a job in healthcare because she wanted to help people, sick people. She was frustrated.
Then she decided to find her purpose in the work she did. One thing about the company that she did find inspiring was their commitment to customer service. She decided that she would switch her focus from the internal workings of the company and become the person who delivered the absolute most human, authentic, genuine, empathic, caring customer service possible.
She focused on her clients, not the company, and took the time to really get to know them. She did research on the stress they were dealing with, and she found resources and solutions to help them. Ultimately, she became the company’s top-performing salesperson. But more importantly, she felt that what she was doing was in line with her personal passion (and personal brand) for helping others, and she would arrive home at the end of the day feeling accomplished, not depleted.
Now it’s your turn. Get clear on the intersection between your purpose and values and those of your company, and then find ways to live in that intersection. When you do, you’ll increase your success and happiness at work.