Purpose-Driven: How To Unleash Organization And Human Capital Potential

Nov 15, 2022 by Eric D. Reicin, President & CEO, BBB National Programs

Purpose is what moves people to take your organization to where it has never been. Nonprofit organizations are inherently driven by a mission and purpose that becomes a force for the greater good of those served. But how do you ensure that your employees can see their connection to purpose and know their contributions make a difference?

To unleash the potential of your organization and its human capital, here are four practices currently on my mind:


1. Create and communicate a clear and compelling vision.

Enhanced by a multi-year plan containing strategic imperatives and actions, center your organization around your vision so that your people want to be part of the journey, are inspired by what is possible, and feel like they belong to something bigger than themselves.

In their book The Power of Moments: Why Certain Experiences Have Extraordinary Impact, Chip Heath and Dan Heath share that “creating more memorable and meaningful experiences is a worthy goal.” Create personalized and group/team experiences to draw people into your clearly communicated vision in a way that promotes trickle-down and trickle-up transparency. In these moments, highlight successes from across the organization that convey the gravity of what you do and at the same time energize your team.


2. Establish strong core values.

Enriching your organization’s values—beliefs that provoke actions and decisions—with purpose-driven behaviors will help you articulate what they look like in action and surface what brings out the best in your people. Entrenching these behaviors in all that you do will allow them to serve as the anchor that guides decisions about strategic plans, goals, and priorities.

This can also be done by applying a "decency quotient," or DQ, in your hiring and retention considerations. Bill Boulding, dean of Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business explains that "DQ means wanting something positive for everyone in the workplace and ensuring everyone feels respected and valued... DQ implies your focus is on doing right by others... Leaders with DQ will better navigate what’s bleeding in from outside the office to instill a sense of common purpose and shared values at work... People want to work for decent people, and they will give those leaders their best.”

In my recent article on defining the “S” in ESG, I focused on how companies are navigating some unchartered waters in their “S” (social) portion in ESG disclosures. As we take that important topic to a more employee-based level, ensuring that your nonprofit attracts, retains, and promotes a diverse, inclusive and accessible workforce and employs high DQ executives can help create a sense of belonging to enhance mission success. Inviting dialogue and embracing differences can create connections and lead to innovation and mission value.


3. Engage in thoughtful planning and acceleration.

Thoughtful prioritization means having a firm grasp on what is most important and executing with deliberate speed to move the needle in the most impactful way. It is important to keep your strategic plan and goals in sight so you are well positioned to overcome challenges that arise. By focusing on employee and stakeholder experiences and diversifying funding, you can better overcome obstacles and find new allies.

Employing growth-centered key performance indicators (KPIs) and targets will keep your organization focused on what will have the most impact. And reviewing trends over time will provide you with key insights to determine where you can and should play as new opportunities emerge. Execute a strategy that places the right resources in the right place to accelerate progress.


4. Contribute to the success of others.

Delivering an exceptional employee experience is built on successfully connecting people to purpose so they become energized by growth for themselves and the organization. Creating an environment where employees feel welcome to challenge themselves, experiment with new ideas, and learn from failure is what will uncover their potential and help your organization reach new heights. This requires leaders to become net givers, meaning they contribute to others’ success as Adam Grant describes in Give and Take: A Revolutionary Approach to Success. Grant points out that: “Success is increasingly dependent on how we interact with others... Givers are the rare breed of people who contribute to others without expecting anything in return.”

Demonstrating your commitment to developing your people will help them see how their growth can create lasting and sustainable success. Effective goal setting and regular formal connection points open the door to creating development plans so that when new opportunities do arise, your people are ready to take them on. Also, providing online commercial education platforms and management and leadership development programs, more typically found in large organizations, can blend differentiated development opportunities with a common understanding of what effective leadership looks like for organizational success.


Facilitate moments that matter.

As leaders at nonprofits, we are best serving our employees and stakeholders when we aspire to facilitate moments that matter. Employing these practices can create moments that not only elevate and energize people but are also part of a winning strategy for nonprofit success.

Originally published in Forbes

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