Companies are continually searching for that elusive competitive edge. 

While technological advances and strategic innovation are crucial, there’s an equally significant factor that drives sustainable success – teams which are aligned to the company’s purpose and values. 

This article explores the transformative potential of an exquisitely aligned team, and how you can harness it to supercharge your team and your company.

“When you’re surrounded by people who share a passionate commitment around a common purpose, anything is possible.”

Howard Schultz (Starbucks CEO)

 The power of alignment 

Alignment is more than just reading from the same page. It’s about understanding and internalising the purpose values that guide the company’s trajectory. Alignment means your team understands the ‘why’ behind what they do and are motivated to work towards it. A unified team sharing common values becomes a powerful force in achieving company goals.

Alignment starts with clear communication of the company’s purpose and values. As a leader, your responsibility is to articulate these in a way that each member can internalise. When employees understand the company’s higher purpose and guiding principles, their day-to-day tasks assume a new significance, often transforming team engagement and productivity.

Leading through example

As a leader, part of your role is to constantly reinforce the company’s purpose and values and help your team connect their daily tasks with the bigger picture. It’s also about showing, instead of telling: not only to espouse your company values but also embody them. Your team’s perception of their leader is critical in determining their level of commitment to the company’s values and purpose.

“People don’t buy WHAT you do, they buy WHY you do it.”

Simon Sinek

Build a culture that enables teams to live their values

A purpose-driven culture enables your team to reflect the company’s values in their actions. As a leader you have the opportunity to set clear, measurable goals that explicitly reflect the company’s purpose and values. You’ll find that when team members can see how their roles contribute to the bigger picture, they are motivated to perform at their best. To move your company’s values from the abstract to the tangible, create opportunities to share examples of “values in action”  and encourage different team members to share moments when their team-mates have lived the company’s values.

 Weaving purpose and values into the company’s fabric

Eventually your company’s purpose and values will become an integral part of everyday life. Here’s how to help it happen:

i. Incorporate into recruitment

The journey of embedding your company’s purpose and values starts from the very first interaction with a potential team member – the recruitment process. Reflect your values in job descriptions and communicate your purpose clearly to prospective applicants. Design your recruitment process to screen for cultural fit. Ask interview questions that assess a candidate’s alignment with your purpose and values. 

ii. Integrate into onboarding

Once a candidate becomes an employee, the onboarding process provides a fertile ground to sow the seeds of your purpose and values. Assign mentors, provide relevant materials, and hold interactive sessions to instil your values and convey ‘how we do things around here.’ 

iii. Create a ‘How We Do Things’ guide

Documenting your purpose, values, and associated behaviours in a guide can serve as a reference point for all employees. This guide can be integrated into performance evaluations, goal-setting, and decision-making processes, acting as a constant reminder of what the company stands for.

iv. Reflect in internal communications

Your purpose and values echo through all internal communications – be it company-wide announcements, newsletters, or casual team meetings. Consistent communication of these key guiding principles helps to keep them at the forefront of everyone’s minds.

v. Reinforce through professional development

Cement your purpose and values through continuous professional development. Regular workshops, team-building exercises and courses can ensure that your employees not just understand but also internalise these guiding principles.

vi. Recognize and reward

Appreciating and rewarding employees who embody your company’s purpose and values is crucial. This recognition could be in the form of public acknowledgment, performance-related bonuses, or special awards. This serves to motivate others and underline the importance of living the company’s values.

 The evidence for purposeful alignment

Building an organisation where the company’s purpose and values are intricately woven into its fabric is not a task achieved overnight. It requires a clear strategy, consistent effort, deliberate actions, and strong leadership commitment. 

But we know that aligning your organisation with its purpose and values not only impacts the bottom line but also drives customer satisfaction, boosts employee engagement, and sparks innovation. 2020 research from Deloitte Insights provides compelling evidence that companies with a strong sense of purpose and a focus on values outperform their counterparts over the long term. 

The bottom line? Done right, your organisation’s purpose and values stop being just a ‘feel-good’ initiative and become a strategic business initiative which can provide a significant competitive advantage. 

Ten steps to a purpose-driven high-performance work culture

  1. – Clearly articulate your company’s purpose and values
  2. – Document your purpose, values, and associated behaviours  
  3. – Ensure leadership demonstrates company values
  4. – Translate your purpose and values into action and KPIs
  5. – Set clear, measurable team goals that reflect the company’s purpose
  6. – Help employees connect their roles to the company’s values for more meaningful work
  7. – Incorporate your values into recruitment and onboarding processes
  8. – Reinforce purpose and values through professional development
  9. – Recognize and reward those who exemplify company values
  10. – Reflect your values in all internal communications

“Good luck is another name for tenacity of purpose.” 

Ralph Waldo Emerson