It’s not an empty platitude to say that the best companies are those that stand for something. Like people, companies are far more effective when they have a strong sense of purpose and know where they want to go.
As a manager, you have a unique opportunity to build and maintain this foundation for your team and invite others to join you. It means thinking about what your values are, as a team and as individuals, and harnessing the power of those values in every aspect of your work. When you help your employees show up every day with a conviction that their work matters — not just because you say so, but because they’re having an impact beyond the office walls—you’ll strengthen your team’s sense of purpose and boost their performance.
As a manager, you know just how rapidly values have transformed the global business landscape. Not so long ago, it was enough for companies to view themselves exclusively as engines of profit. As long as leaders delivered value to stakeholders, they were considered a success—no matter if they mistreated workers, built a toxic culture or compromised their values along the way.
Today, though, values are a central part of the conversation on how businesses operate. There’s more accountability—in large part because of social media—and also more opportunity. And it starts with managers; when you help your team members tap into their own values and are encouraged to reflect their values in their work, everyone will get where they want to go much faster.
Here are a few ways to keep values and vision top of mind for your team:
1. Encourage honest conversations
To have an impact on the world, you need to engage with the world. In meetings and in general, encourage your employees to ask the thorny questions and have candid conversations about current events, culture or whatever’s on their minds. Are we doing the right thing? How can we engage with an issue and bring more voices to the conversation? Real conversations and honest questions are the surest ways to surface people’s thoughts, passions and values—all of which can fuel a fulfilling, engaged and productive workplace.
2. Talk about the mission
Many companies have a mission statement or a stated purpose, but it’s all too easy for employees to feel disconnected from them—or ignore them altogether. In one-on-one and group meetings, try helping your employees engage with the company’s core purpose by asking how it connects to their own values. You’ll bring clarity to their workdays and help them see themselves as part of something larger than themselves.
3. Make priorities a priority
One of the most helpful things you can do for your team members is help them prioritize —not just by seeing the world through the lens of deadlines and deliverables but through values and vision. Help them see how their priorities connect to the company’s overall goals. When employees see that connection, they’ll be that much more motivated to work harder and smarter—and bring others along with them.