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Differences Between Culture, Purpose, and Employee Engagement

Differences Between Culture, Purpose, and Employee Engagement

Business leaders often work to improve the culture of a business, but what is “Business Culture“?

The culture of a business is HOW an organization operates. This isn’t referring to values, mission statements or strategic imperatives. Those are important, but none of them relate to the HOW.

Every organization should have a systemic leadership philosophy that defines how people within it function with each other, external suppliers/partners and customers. The Culture is the Operating Ethos of the organization.

The United States Military has an old tradition and policy of “Lead By Example.” Leading by example should apply to all organizations as it is the simplest way to instill and maintain a productive culture. The motto: “Don’t ask anyone to do something you are not willing to do yourself”, is a hallmark of any successful organization.

Subordinate leaders and employees will naturally emulate what they see the senior leadership of an organization do. Even the senior leader of the biggest organization is still accountable to others and needs to recognize and show understanding of that accountability to subordinate leaders and employees.

Who is a senior leader accountable to? Even the CEO is accountable to investors, customers and most importantly to the employees who he or she leads in the organization. When leaders are accountable themselves for what they do, right or wrong, they can then demand accountability from subordinate leaders and all employees. When accountability in actions not just words exists at the highest levels of an organization and is demanded from all leadership and employees, accountability as a culture will permeate every aspect of the business and become second nature to all employees.

When a lack of accountability becomes unacceptable behavior in the organization’s culture, those who refuse to be accountable will leave either by choice or attrition.

Purpose is WHAT and organization stands for. A purpose to strive for might be to “provide quality service and products to benefit all stakeholders.”

Stakeholders include employees, customers, partners, investors and community members. When an organization truly has an exemplary purpose and benefits all stakeholders, there is no doubt that everyone involved with the organization will prosper.

Engagement is how employees FEEL about their culture and purpose. When employees feel good about the culture and purpose of an organization, engagement goes through the roof. The emotional “buy-in” and participation in that strong engagement brings is when employees go beyond “just punching a clock” and to full “team players” working for the growth, success, and prosperity of the entire organization and all its stakeholders.

In a great Forbes Magazine article by Dan Pontefract, he makes an analogy that in an organization, Culture is the Chocolate, Purpose is the Peanut Butter, and Engagement is the great taste experienced by the combination enjoyed by employees. To use Mr. Pontefract’s analogy, what every organization should aspire to is being a Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup. Enjoy the taste in your organization!

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