I recently rented a car and got a powerful lesson in alignment as part of the deal. Not wheel alignment, but alignment with purpose – at least that’s the way I interpreted it.
The person who served me did several things incredibly well: she greeted me in a friendly and genuine way, and then went straight into business. She had to do all of the usual things that car rental service people have to do with paperwork and payments, but how she went through this process set her and her company apart. Instead of a bored, slightly-glazed look, she treated me as a person that she was serving. She made sure I understood the important information, but not in a condescending way. Rather, she took the time to present the information in a way that said, “This is important, and I want you to know it so you feel that you are being served well.” She was efficient and, for me, easy to work with.
What struck me in all of this was that she seemed to care about what she was doing. She wanted to do the work right, and she wanted to do right by me. I left feeling as though this person cared about the purpose of her company and the purpose of her work – that these things meant something to her.
After my experience, I had to see what this particular car rental company had to say about its mission or purpose. I was not surprised to find that they aspire to serve customers with honesty and fairness, as well as listen to customers in order to ensure solutions are reached with integrity and respect. In addition, they are always looking for ways in which they can improve the customer’s experience. One of the headers on their website’s “About Us” page is even titled, “Making it Easy,” which is exactly what the attendant that served me did – she didn’t tell me about the company in her words, but she showed me in her actions. Her individual actions and purpose aligned with the company’s, and that spoke volumes.
When we conducted our 2,400 person survey on what makes a great workplace, one of the strongest messages we received was that when leaders consistently communicate their organizational purpose in clear ways, there is a strong correlation with having a great workplace (for more on this, check out our new book, The Culture Question). People need a way to align their actions with a greater purpose. When they do so, it not only leads to a better work experience, but to better services and products as well.
Every organization, big or small, should be asking itself these questions:
- Do we have a clearly defined and easy-to-understand purpose?
- Do we communicate our purpose clearly and often?
- Does each individual in our organization know what they need to do to align with that purpose?
When the answer is “Yes” to each of these questions, your organization will be well on its way to creating both a great workplace, and a great organization that delivers on its true purpose.
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