The purpose defines everything that a worker does in an enterprise. It most definitely defines the purpose of collaborations between workers, daily. This link usually is undetected and unrealized at worst and is forgotten at best. It is also often found that the leaders insist on collaborations without aligning the workers on the organizational purpose, perhaps due to lack of realization or mindfulness of its link.
Organization purpose and alignment
The alignment is a difficult subject. The promoters of an organization define their purpose mostly to do something meaningful, to create something new, and to make a difference, to lead a cause or simply to have the freedom to make decisions not bound by the restrictions inflicted upon them if they were employees than being promoters. Their drive is to realize their innate leadership potential, knowingly or otherwise. The entrepreneurial drive defines their actions born out of the purpose.
The employees join the enterprises with a myriad of purposes. Some join with a purpose to learn better. Some have a purpose to earn more, some have a purpose to attain more power and some join out of sheer necessity to sustain a livelihood; and this list is indicative. Of course, the sheer variety and coexistence of these purposes make it more complex for the promoters or top management to achieve alignment.
Organizational purpose needs to be embedded into the formal agenda decided by the leadership team. It is often presented to the employees, potential employees, the customers and all the enterprise relationships in the form of organization Vision and Values statement. It acts as a guiding force for formulating business strategy and operational strategy, which helps in translation of the organizational purpose into action.
Organization purpose, communication and the role of HR function
Communication of the organizational purpose by sharing the vision and value statement with employees gives them clarity on their individual role and responsibilities and prepares them to get aligned into the organizational philosophy.
The human resource function has an important role to play in selecting candidates who will be the right fit for the organization. Recruiting and interviewing candidates is a very skilled job, when the interviewer tries to assess the employee purpose, drivers, his/her passion and intrinsic motivators and matches it with the organizational purpose and policies. The purpose fit assessment generally supports a harmonious and fruitful relationship between the employees and the business leaders, contributing to the fulfillment of the organizational purpose
Alignment and Organization structures
The ownership structures add to the complexity of achieving alignments. On the spectrum of single ownership to publicly held enterprises, the direction from the left to the right has a positive and high correlation with the difficulty of alignment of the purpose.
Alignment of purpose and Collaborations
Given the sheer complexity in a variety of purposes of individual employees and promoters, made complex by the ownership structures, poses ‘positional disadvantage’ to start with. The collaboration between leadership teams and direct reports, the collaboration between the rest of the functions of the rest of the Organization needs to be carefully defined than making the ad-hoc allocation of responsibilities. People have different purposes and whether they collaborate or otherwise is dependent on how they see another person in alignment with their individual purpose of being in the Organization.
We came across an interesting case where the marketing function was at loggerheads with the design team simply because the design head’s purpose was to be famous for his creatives while the marketing team needed a design to be functionally fit as demanded by the customers and in sync with its brand than being the most creative one. In the trade-off between their purposes, the design head simply threw up his hands and complained of interference from marketing while the marketing function complained of the poor understanding by the design team of the customer requirements in spite of their communicating expectations clearly and repeatedly. The outcome was that they lost the customer and head of the design function, both.
This example shows that how employee goal misalignment with that of the organization s/he works for impacts the work environment and the performance of other colleagues in the team or the department and the overall performance of the organization.
Collaboration and commonality of purpose
The Management must take efforts to align their functional purposes with their own purpose. More importantly, they must make sure to let the employees know what it for them is to align their purpose with the organizational one.
As Jack Welch puts it, “leaders try to do a good job in defining their purpose and why that purpose should hold, but they do a poor job in tapping the intrinsic motivation of the employees to tell them what they would gain if they align themselves.”
Forced collaborations often result in frictions or delayed outcomes or frustrated and disengaged employees. The alignment of purpose makes it easier to ask employees to collaborate. In fact, leaders need to do minimal effort if employees feel from within to collaborate with each other, once they know that collaborative behaviours would be rewarded.
To summarize, the alignment of purpose among promoters and employees and making sure that collaborations would be rewarded, are the key success factors to achieve effective and even voluntary collaborations at workplaces.
The author Sanjeevani Sathe is a Researcher and Content Creator at Whizible project enterprise management software. Please Visit www.whizible.com for more information.