Purpose-driven organisations: Part 2

By Ben Carey on 15 October, 2021

Formerly a professor of Food and Beverage and Service Operations Management at the world-renowned Ecole Hotelier de Lausanne, Ian Scarth has a background in strategic development and leadership within the hotel and hospitality sectors.

Here Ian continues his insights into what it means to be a Purpose-driven organisation.

You can read Part 1 of the article here.

Purpose-driven organisations: Part 2

Once a company has a clear vision of its Purpose, it can go on to develop the Purpose-driven individuals that will undoubtably have to implement this new approach.

As the new Purpose is communicated out and starts to cascade through the organisation, ownership becomes instinctive and natural to all motivated frontline staff.

For example, a waiter’s personal Purpose could be to ensure that customer expectations are surpassed, and a memorable experience is delivered. In which case, the company needs to fully support the waiter in achieving that Purpose, which in turn contributes to the wider company Purpose of providing “exceptional customer satisfaction”.

How this is achieved is related to the ownership of that Purpose.  This does not eliminate the need for standards, procedures and processes, but does give the owner (the waiter) the freedom to apply his own personality and creativity to the task in hand and develops a want to participate in the original standard setting process to which he is working. Giving this ownership demonstrates trust and in turn trust leads to a feelgood factor that adds to the organisation’s cultural foundation.

Dictatorial leadership has to become a thing of the past, while inclusive and involved leadership a thing of the future. This is a hard concept for some leaders to come to terms with. However, failure to grasp this notion will lead to dissatisfaction on the part of those being led, and frustration on the part of the leader.

Thought must be given to how the organisation articulates and communicates its Purpose to the wider business. For example, the waiter’s Purpose will certainly differ from that of the chef’s, who is more focused on product than service. However, they are both vital in the company’s efforts to achieve its overall Purpose of exceptional customer satisfaction.

When Purpose and passion are aligned, the journey toward a “Higher Purpose” becomes smoother and more impactful. The bumps and bends of the road are left behind as the organisation takes advantage of the freeway ahead to accelerate towards its agreed milestones. If any waiter has passion fuelling an agreed Purpose and more freedom to achieve that Purpose, his guests will certainly enjoy a more memorable dining experience.

All too often in the past, employees have been asked to show passion, without any ownership of the Purpose and have not been provided with the time or tools to express that passion. They are set-up in firefighting mode and have to battle just to survive the working day.

Offering the best pay rates will no longer attract and retain inspired employees, life is too full of stress, uncertainty and depression. Today’s high-performance environments have to be built on a foundation that includes both tangible employee benefits and intangible experience, that meet the challenges of today’s working environment.

Failure to deliver these intangibles will almost certainly result in employee dissatisfaction and a higher degree of stress, anxiety, depression and demotivation, all of which were growing in the workplaces well before Covid came along. 

I’ve noticed a growing number of CEOs calling for a return to the office on the grounds that working from home is reducing productivity. This may well be the case. It’s also very probable that many people are looking forward to a return to the workplace, as they miss colleagues and the comradery and banter that is not available at home or over Skype/Teams. Taking such steps without identified objectives and clarity of Purpose could transport business practices back into the old norm, and not provide the employee with the involvement and participation they desire.