Effectively communicating your business purpose to your employees is crucial to embed purpose into the DNA of your company.
When you put purpose at the heart of your organisation, you embark on a cultural shift from being just a commercially-led business to both a purpose and commercially-led company, and that means organisation-wide behavioural change might need to happen.
As with all significant business changes, it is vital to communicate in an inspiring, authentic and engaging way to your employees. Communicating effectively changes employees behaviour, to drive support, loyalty and to even embrace the business change.
Your goal of inspiring and empowering employees to think and behave differently is not a ‘quick fix, however’. Embedding a new company purpose is an iterative and continuous process, and it often takes months for a change on this scale to be felt company wide. In our experience ensuring you manage your leadership team’s expectations and support them by providing the communication tools they need throughout is vital to suceed.
Above all, the communications strategy and process for embedding your new company purpose should be clearly defined, with a series of specific tactical steps to ensure effective comms.
1. Being positive and inspiring
When you talk about your purpose internally, it should be inspiring and motivating to employees. The core reason for becoming a purpose led business should be understood by everyone, and that your “why” doesn’t become lost in the rush to implement change.
Always address the ‘why’ behind the business purpose first when it comes to internal comms. Motivating and exciting employees to be involved and understand their role in the bigger picture is key. And as we examined in a previous blog, employees want to work for businesses with purpose and see where their role makes an impact.
2. Being accountable
For employees to fully embrace your newly articulated business purpose, your leadership team will need to lead from the front. That means they’ll be explicitly and authentically exhibiting and demonstrating what it looks like to live and breathe the company purpose.
An effective internal communication strategy to embed purpose will only succeed if everyone in the business is accountable for their own role in driving the purpose forward.
3. Being open and honest
To communicate effectively with employees, it’s important to be honest. As a business moves into being purpose-led, there may well be big changes happening. There may be new suppliers to work with, new processes implemented, new ways of doing business that are different than before – and as these logistical and operational changes happen, the working environment might become busy, stressful or difficult for a period of time.
Being honest that there may be challenges ahead as the business transforms, will inspire faith and trust, helping employees understand the nuances and complexity of changes to processes and ease the emotional load.
4. Being clear and relevant
Be explicit about what any operational or behavioural changes mean for individuals. It is best practise to explain to your employees what impact the business purpose will have on them in the long term, and what opportunities it opens up for them and their personal futures at the company. Involvement in charity work, community and school outreach programmes may start rolling out across the business and increased motivation and satisfaction levels are also common benefits for individuals working in more purposeful businesses.
As well as the bigger picture, be clear on the specific next steps. Communicate what is going to be happening when and what support you need from them at what stages. When they buy into the bigger picture of the purpose, and see how it aligns with their personal values or opportunities, the more likely they are to be actively involved in driving the business forward.
5. Being human
There is a temptation when communicating a newly invigorated business purpose, to pepper internal comms with corporate and marketing speak, but being human and down to earth is always the most effective way of communicating purpose.
Leading with purpose is about establishing genuine human connections, not only in wider society, your market or your customer base, but also with your employees.
Use simple, everyday language to keep corporate barriers down and build trust that what you are communicating is authentic – not just another slogan on a wall.
6. Using the right channels
Experiment with different channels, methods and platforms for different areas of the business to find the most relevant for your employees.
For example, how you communicate with your delivery teams may be very different to how your customer care teams need to be consulted. Whether you’re using email, face to face meetings, intranet, virtual meetings, or internal message platforms, ensure employees get the messages that are relevant to them, at the right time, in the right place, and in the right format.
7. Being consistent
And finally, consistency is key to effective internal communication of your purpose.
Although communicating purpose effectively may mean using different channels and formats to reach different teams, ensure there’s no discrepancy in how your purpose is being described.
Creating a ‘comms toolkit’ for line managers and organisational leaders will empower them to embrace the purpose in a way that is authentic to them while also being consistent.
A successful internal communications campaign supporting a shift towards becoming a purpose led business should inspire, motivate and empower employees through consistent, relevant, human communication.
Understanding your employees, creating a comms plan that speaks to their personal needs, and giving leaders the tools to authentically embody your business purpose will, over time, successfully embed your purpose into the DNA of the business.
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