How to Project Your Purpose

Guest blog post by Speaker and Author, Bobby Albert. This post was originally published on July 12, 2016 on http://www.bobbyalbert.com. 

logo-1I have written quite a bit about our purpose (Why you exist?) and our vision (Where do you want to be?). As leaders, once we understand why our purpose and our vision are so important, the next logical step is to spread the word.

My pulse quickens and I can feel the excitement build within me when I think about a leader effectively communicating their purpose and vision to their team! And even though it can be challenging, the rewards are worth it! Let me share how we did it at my moving and storage company.

Operation QIC

On February 12, 1992, we introduced our first half-a-day, company-wide meeting called Operation QIC (pronounced “quick” for Quality is Contagious).

Because that first meeting was so successful, we continued to have an annual post-peak-season, half-day, company-wide QIC-Day (named after the first meeting).

The Purpose

The purpose of a QIC-Day was to emphasize a yearly theme. And in October 2001, I introduced WOW! to our people so we all would clearly understand…

WWhy we exist? (our purpose)

O – (has no meaning)

WWhere do we want to be? (our vision)

Years prior to our WOW! QIC-Day, our people had already heard me speak about our purpose (Customers For Life) and our vision (Revolutionizing the Way People Move).

The WOW! QIC-Day was that moment we codified our thinking as we more deeply discovered why we exist (our purpose) and where do we want to be (our vision).

For this blog post, I will focus on how I conveyed our purpose to our entire company.

Every leader can effectively communicate and project their purpose by taking three simple steps

Step 1:  Understand the Method
I have found that interactive group activities are the best way to help folks dive deeper into any topic. So, we intentionally planned such activities for this important day. As our employees arrived for our WOW! QICDay, we asked them to sit at pre-assigned table groups of no more than eight people per table to…

  • Encourage interaction and discussion
  • Enjoy the games we were about to compete in

Fun Games

Each game played was designed for our people to…

  • Have fun
  • Learn to work as a team
  • Discover practical applications

Game # 1 – To kick off the meeting, we used an “ice breaker” game for our people to get up from their chair and move across the room to ask questions given to them to learn something personal about someone they would not have known before.

Game # 2 – I’m sure you’ve heard of Monopoly.  It’s the world’s favorite family board game. Well, we played a similar game.

To give emphasis to our QIC-Day and since we were in the moving and storage business, we called our custom made board game Moveopoly! (I still have the original custom game board template we made.)

Step 2. Clarify the Message

At our WOW! QIC-Day, we divided our agenda into two parts:

  • Our Purpose
  • Our Vision

For now, let’s look at how I rolled out and communicated our purpose.

Our Purpose

In my company at the end of the day, we want to accomplish only two things:

  • Delight Customers, and
  • Increase Operating Profits

I later called these our super–objectives, because they became the two high-level, over-arching objectives for our business. And they were so simple that everyone could easily understand and remember them.

We knew we had delighted the customer when we gave them an experience that exceeded their expectations.

And we actually had measurable performance goals related to how well we delighted the customer.

Insight: When you delight your customers, increased operating profits will follow.

As a by-product of delighting the customers, we achieved our purpose, Customers For Life. That WOW! QIC-Day, I also shared with our people our three priorities for why we exist:

  • Grow business in existing markets
  • Expand business into compatible niche markets
  • Develop and sustain long-term customer relationships

Afterwards, we had open discussions about what these three priorities looked like specifically for our business.

Step 3. Amplify the Awareness

During the meeting, we used two questions to stimulate thinking and discussion about our purpose (Why we exist):

  • Can you identify the things that delight (not just satisfy) our customers and achieve our purposeCustomers For Life? (positive thoughts)
  • Can you identify the things that turn customers off? (negative thoughts)

I used the following process to engage our people to participate in the facilitation exercise about our purpose:

  • I introduced the first of the purpose-related questions from above and asked our people to discuss at their table possible answers to that question.
  • Next, each table used their flip chart to record their ideas and answers in response to the first question.
  • Then, one-by-one, each table was asked to share their best idea for that question with the entire group.

Then we repeated the process for the second question. Finally, we all played the Moveopoly board game about our purpose. Each table created their own game cards based on the answers shared as part of the previous exercise. Cards were made using 10 positive thoughts and 10 negative thoughts that our people gave during the facilitation exercise.

Boy, did our people have lots of fun playing Moveopoly and competing against the other table teams for special prizes.

But most of all while they were having “a ball of fun” and using the positive cards and negative cards containing their own thoughts, it completely reinforced how they were going to achieve Customers For Life – our purpose.

In my next blog post, I will talk about the second half of our WOW! QIC-day agenda – and describe how we introduced and reinforced our vision – Where do we want to be?

Do you know why you exist as a person and as an organization? How could you use a similar game-based discovery approach with your people to deeply communicate your message to them?


ABOUT THE AUTHOR:bobbyalbert

Bobby Albert is a writer and speaker who builds on themes of leadership in his new book, P
rincipled Profits, Outward Success is an Inside Job that is launching March 2017. Bobby writes and speaks regularly about values-driven leadership and workplace culture. To learn more, visit BobbyAlbert.com.

 

 

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Employing People Who Have Disabilities – A Culture of Respect and Trust

Guest Blog Post from Charlie Graham, CEO of Peak Performers

I must be getting old. I clearly remember the debates about bringing ethnic minority employees into the workforce, paying women equally to men, and even preserving the workplace wisdom provided only by older workers. Today, such debates seem as antiquated as whether women are capable of riveting airplane panels, as thousands of ‘Rosie the Riveters’ proved in World War II. Yet today a similar debate rages over whether people who have a disability can successfully hold a job. In fact, it’s the same old debate.

To properly engage in this debate, we must better understand some definitions. In the U.S., having a disability does not mean that a person uses a wheelchair, or has a developmental disability such as Down’s Syndrome, although these are popular notions. In 2009, the U.S. Congress greatly expanded the definition of a disability to give it a broad interpretation when they amended the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Today, millions more Americans fall under prohibitions against discrimination on the basis of disability by employers.

But that’s all negative gain – telling employers what they must not do. The trust and respect are gained with an understanding, usually by experience, that the old arguments against hiring minorities and women are just as inapplicable and biased as they were in 1940, 1960 and 1980. People with disabilities are a different population, but the biases, arguments and tactics are the same. And as was the case with women and minorities, most resistance is based on misinformation. For example, here are the facts behind the misinformed objections I hear most often related to hiring people with disabilities.

  1. People with disabilities are a safety and health risk. My company, Peak Performers, has been seeking out and hiring disabled people for more than 20 years and our workers’ compensation rates are no higher or lower than any other employer in temporary staffing. And, of course, under the Affordable Care Act, insurers are no longer permitted to exclude or rate-up people with pre-existing conditions.
  1. Bringing people with disabilities into my workforce will disrupt the morale and integrity of my workforce. Nope. They are already in your workforce and you just don’t know it. They’ve been hiding their condition(s) for fear that revealing that they have [fill-in-the–blank condition] will cost them and their families money, security, advancement, trust, respect and the myriad of other working conditions made available to non-disabled workers. This is no cause for alarm though. The fact that they are already there among your workforce suggests that their condition is not adversely affecting their performance, or your culture. Having a disabling condition is becoming more and more like having a nose – nearly everyone has one.
  1. People with mental or psychiatric conditions are dangerous in the workplace. Nope, unless, of course, you are prone to ignoring alarming behaviors. Some people are just plain mean. Don’t hire mean people. You can tell the difference when you talk with them. Some of the most successful, visible, popular and famous people have a diagnosis of some kind and have overcome the effects of their condition to manage whatever it is, such that it does not manage them.
  1. How can I trust them? Just do it. I can tell you from decades of experience in making that same decision that they will be no better and no worse than anyone else you hire. Everyone needs time off to fix a broken car, or to pay their last respects to Grandma. You can start to worry on the 3rd grandmother.

So, if you regard yourself as one of the enlightened employers who have readily accepted women, minorities, people of other cultures and older workers into a broad cross section of your workforce, for equal pay and for equal work, then you can gain further competitive advantage in your marketplace by consciously reaching out to people who have a “condition” in an equal manner to recruit, hire, train, employ and promote. But I caution…you too may make many new friends from among this population, just like all others to whom you have opened your employment ranks. That trust and respect goes both directions.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Graham-HeadshotCharlie Graham is the founder and CEO of Peak Performers, a nonprofit staffing agency headquartered in Austin, Texas. Over the last 20 years, Charlie has led Peak Performers to employ and transition thousands of people who have disabilities into family wage jobs in and around Central Texas, increasing opportunities for individual professional growth and economic prosperity.

 To learn more about Peak Performers, visit: www.peakperformers.org.