The presence of purpose – Part 2


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I was talking with my daughter about a friend of hers who had applied to work at the reception desk of a local health club. Her friend anxiously rehearsed the organization’s mission statement in order to recall it during her job interview. She got the job and later shared that, while the company made a big deal out of the mission statement during the interview process, it wasn’t a part of her daily work experience.

This got me thinking about the typical hiring process at most companies. There’s a tendency for job candidates to research the company, its history, competitors, customers, mission statement, and core values in preparation for the interview. Job candidates make this effort to demonstrate their initiative, interest level, and preparedness. It’s expected that their actual experience on the job will align with the guiding principles and core values espoused during the hiring and onboarding process. If so, there will likely be genuine enthusiasm about linking their daily work activities (i.e., actions, behaviors, and decision-making) to these higher ideals.

However, when these tenets are relegated to a folder or handbook as employees transition to their new roles, they are soon forgotten. And later, when they’re brought up, they’re no longer viewed as credible and relevant to the employee’s real world of work. Instead, they’re seen as ceremonial, and employees dutifully nod in agreement at their recounting before looking at their watch and getting back to work.

It’s common for job essence (JE)the reflection, through actions, behaviors, and decision-making, of job purpose—the single highest priority of the job role, to be subordinated to job functions (JFs)the duties, tasks, and processes executed by an employee in a particular job role, in a push to “make the numbers.” This myopia dominates the management culture at most companies.

Too often, JE and JFs are viewed as mutually exclusive, whereby JE is perceived as a ceremonial nod to the founders but of little consequence otherwise. Though it’s worthy of our reverence, awe, and respect, it’s not integrated into the day-to-day operations of the business in a meaningful way. Job functions, on the hand, are seen as all-important and deserving of our time, attention, and effort. As such, they constitute the great majority of interview questions, performance appraisal criteria, meeting agenda items, and KPIs.

To change this perception, supervisors, managers, and leaders must be intentional about integrating corporate ideals into the processes used to operate the business. In doing so, the higher purpose of the organization and job role can become imbued with the company culture and employees’ real world of work. This includes job descriptions, performance appraisals, standards, employee surveys, customer surveys, meeting agendas, etc.

To get started, establish a baseline score using the Purpose Quotient™ assessment—a tool that provides directionally accurate ratings linked to the presence of organizational and job purpose in the work environment. The sample assessment below yielded a score of 16, indicating there is opportunity to incorporate JE into JFs.

Purpose Quotient™ assessment

Lower ratings (<25) indicate a transactional, process focus, which may be devoid of JE and correlate with lower levels of employee engagement in work settings described by survey respondents as “boring” and “monotonous.” This sentiment results in customer service quality described by customers as “transactional” or “indifferent.”

Higher ratings (>25) indicate a relational, customer focus, which correlates with higher levels of employee engagement. Here, employees tend to describe their job and work environment as “interesting” and “purposeful.” Higher ratings also result in customer service quality defined by customers as “excellent” and “exceptional.”

Because the dimensions of a job role are not zero-sum, JFs or JE, and two-thirds of the job role’s parts are comprised of job knowledge and job skills (i.e., JFs), it’s unrealistic to have a credible rating much higher than 50. Even Disneyland, which was imagined through a JE lens and is operated with a JE focus, relies on protocols, processes, policies, procedures, standards, and other instruments of JFs to execute and deliver on its promise to park guests. However, extremely low scores are entirely realistic (e.g., DMV, cable companies, utilities, and government services come to mind). We have all endured organizations that appear to lack purpose, mission, or core values that align with the principle of service.

So, how much purpose is present in your business?

Use the Purpose Quotient™ assessment to identify work processes that may not reinforce corporate ideals. Next, look for ways to incorporate JE into the process in ways that will enhance the process while reflecting the organization’s mission, vision, or purpose and core values. Doing so will increase the percentage of JE relative to JFs. This will reveal and validate JE as an integral part of the business, actuate corporate ideals in employees’ real world of work, and foster purposeful work environments and exceptional product and service quality.

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Steve Curtin
Steve Curtin is the author of Delight Your Customers: 7 Simple Ways to Raise Your Customer Service from Ordinary to Extraordinary. He wrote the book to address the following observation: While employees consistently execute mandatory job functions for which they are paid, they inconsistently demonstrate voluntary customer service behaviors for which there is little or no additional cost to their employers. After a 20-year career with Marriott International, Steve now devotes his time to speaking, consulting, and writing on the topic of extraordinary customer service.


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