The local news company informs its readers of what’s happening in nearby communities. The restaurant exists to make sure customers are fed and have an enjoyable time eating and drinking. The software as a service (SaaS) company builds technology that helps businesses become more efficient. The doctor’s office does everything it can to make sure its patients are healthy.
It’s easy to understand the what. But few companies understand the why.
That’s according to Simon Sinek. In 2009, Sinek gave a TED Talk that outlined how leaders can inspire action from those who follow them. Sinek argues that leaders who understand why their organizations do what they do have a much easier time inspiring their teams than those who simply know what their organizations do.
“If you don’t know why you do what you do, and people respond to why you do what you do, then how will you ever get people to vote for you, or buy something for you, or, more importantly, be loyal and want to be a part of what it is that you do?” Sinek asked. “The goal is not just to hire people who need a job; it’s to hire people who believe what you believe. I always say that, you know, if you hire people just because they can do a job, they’ll work for your money, but if they believe what you believe, they’ll work for you with blood and sweat and tears.”
So first things first, you need to define what your organization believes. Once you’ve done that, you can start showing your team what the bigger picture is, encouraging them to take a step back from their day-to-day job responsibilities to see what the company is accomplishing on a larger scale. The way you frame the why should help you attract candidates with high talent potential who are committed to the causes your company is invested in.
Getting employees to believe what you believe in is a critical component of any successful organization. According to a recent Deloitte study, 56% of employees say they’ve turned down working somewhere because an organization didn’t share their values. Additionally, 70% of professionals indicated that they share the same values as their current employers. If your company doesn’t really have any beliefs other than generating revenue, you’re unlikely to have a workforce that’s sufficiently motivated.
Great leaders understand that today’s employees are particularly interested in joining organizations that enable them to do meaningful work. This is not to say that everyone wants to cure cancer. Work can be meaningful in a number of different ways. Some employees are motivated by their own desire to grow professionally while others are motivated by helping their organizations improve. Other employees are motivated by helping out the communities they work in and advancing socially responsible partnerships and causes. The list goes on.
Once you’ve figured out why your organization does what it does, it’s time to put together a message to share with your team to get them to believe what your company believes. That’s the ticket to self-motivated and engaged employees who are always thinking about how their work improves the lives of those around them — and coming up with new ideas that can make their organizations even stronger.