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  • Writer's pictureBrett Simpson

5. Engagement: The Intersection of Purpose & Alignment

Updated: Apr 30, 2020

The holy grail of building a high-performance company is accomplished through engagement of the individuals that comprise it. Successful leaders understand the importance of engagement. They know how to capture attention and create the desire to expend effort. They know how to manage focus and motivate people to do their best. They know how to engage. 

Studies show significant, proven value in engagement. Google 'employee engagement studies' and you’ll find more information than you can imagine on the topic.  Acknowledging this, the next step is uncovering why and how engagement is created.

Why Create Engagement? The outcomes tied to employee engagement are tangible.

  • Increased happiness, healthiness and job satisfaction, which lead to…

  • Higher, better output and quality of work, which lead to…

  • A more efficient workplace that people want to be a part of, which leads to…

  • Better customer-facing products, services and experiences, which lead to…

  • Stronger company results and a rewarding environment for employees, which lead to…

  • A repeat of the cycle (obviously a simplified happy-path / ideal-case)

What is the Engagement Intersection? Engagement is the intersection of purpose and alignment (see Intersection 5 graphic below). Companies with engaged people have figured out how to optimize variables such as opportunity, excitement, safety and motivation, which is accomplished through purpose and alignment. 

Purpose There are three layers of purpose. The corporate purpose…why the company exists. The team / division / department purpose…why the team exists. And the individual’s purpose…why their role exists on that team in that company. 

Traceability exists between the layers of purpose. People want and need to understand how they impact and add value to the company. There needs to be a clear path from each person’s daily tasks to the company strategy and then on to the company purpose. If individuals or teams don’t know what role they play in the company, their engagement will be sub-par. They’ll end up fulfilling their role out of the need to get a paycheck rather than a desire to add value. 

Purpose is more than just a goal or objective. It’s more than a vision or mission statement. It is the foundation on which goals, objectives, vision / mission statements are based.  Purpose at all levels must be succinct and understood. If it’s not both of these it will be forgotten and ineffectual.

Intersection 5: Engagement = Purpose + Alignment

Alignment Engagement is reliant on alignment. Importantly, alignment around purpose at all levels. Without alignment there will be disconnects and miscommunication, resulting in an uncontrolled, chaotic environment. Alignment ensures widespread understanding of the why and the how. It doesn’t require agreement, but it assumes adherence.

Alignment creates transparency and an ability to operate from top-to-bottom in a more efficient manner. Alignment is the framework and wrapper around purpose that facilitates action, cohesion and synergy, both in the organization and between individuals. With alignment, engagement becomes possible because it provides order. 

The intent of alignment isn’t to create negative limitations or boundaries, rather to illuminate the structure by which leadership has deemed the use and allocation of resources as most effective.

What Can Leaders Do? Leaders are accountable for building engagement. They set the purpose and communicate it. They intentionally create alignment around purpose and strategy. These engagement-building actions must come to fruition first within the senior leadership team.

If senior leaders don’t support or believe in the purpose, no one will. If leadership isn't aligned around something as core as translating purpose into a strategic roadmap, no one else will be. 

Wrap Up & Up Next Engagement starts with the leadership team’s alignment around purpose and continues with its ability to maintain and sustain it. Only then can engagement begin to be realized throughout the organization.

Next time we’ll examine the 6th intersection of performance, which is the Risk-Tolerance Intersection. In this series of articles, we explore The Intersections of Performance, of which there are 30. The Intersections of Performance framework is based on the experience and insights of Brett Simpson, Managing Director of Elevate Simply, over his 20+ years of leadership in large and small organizations, and as an entrepreneur, advisor and investor.

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