“You are what you do, not what you say you’ll do.” – Swiss psychiatrist and psychoanalyst Carl Jung.

As I read this quote, my thoughts ran to not only people but to organizations and leaders as well.

If you read every organization’s website, you would see carefully crafted words; Vision, Mission, and Core Values. As you see leaders interviewed, you get the same carefully crafted words repeated in almost a melody. In the vast majority of those cases, it is just that: WORDS.

The employees, according to engagements surveys, do not see their organization doing what they say they do.

The Year of Purpose

Stanley Fink, who is the chairman, CEO, and co-founder of the largest asset-management company in the world writes an annual letter to his shareholders. A few years back, he spoke of Organizational Purpose. In other words, what is your organization doing to address societal ills? This year, he addresses Climate Change and organizational responsibility to address these issues either through sustainability or some other approach. His message is, “Do what you do and NOT what you say you will do.”

The Pendulum has swung

The activist organization is the new normal, if not now, but in the future. I was in Hong Kong last year in the middle of the chaos. I noticed all these college students leading and disrupting the entire city. What I saw were future leaders, future activists and not troublemakers, and other names that they were called.

What it means for the organization is that this is your new worker that will infiltrate your organization in years to come. This will mean that they will be outspoken and would want an answer to Why Should I Work For You?

Forget about why I should hire you? The applicant’s seat is thinking, tell me why I should work for you. Your answer can’t be based on extrinsic values such as compensation and benefits. No, Intrinsic values come from within. A proud feeling to be associated with a company that stands for something. Seeing your company take a stand on an issue is doing and not saying.  An employee who is motivated intrinsically is working for his/her satisfaction and may value challenging work he or she perceives to be meaningful to the company.

These new workers are looking for the sync that your organization’s core values match your company objectives.

Organizations must spend more time doing that talking.

Visit your website and read the “About Us” section, check out your social media accounts to get a sense of your culture, search for press or articles about innovative things the company might be doing.

What are your organizations doing besides a laser focus on P&L?

If prospective job seekers, went through this process and nothing sparks the imagination or drive the desire to work there, they may take a pass.

Sell the culture

Every piece of communication should be filtered through the culture of your organization. Every piece of communication so talks to what your organization stands for. Think of the hotel and how they are laser-focused on sustainability, from cleaning your room to what is done with the food after the buffet. There are so many opportunities to get your message out. Use every opportunity to tell it from the mountaintop.

During my time at Martha Stewart in New York, we were kind of ahead of our time in messaging. Our goal was to get our employees to give back to society. Every employee was given 2 additional days to volunteer in their community in some way. We would participate in a city-wide giving event called “Operation Backpack”.

This event brought together organizations across NYC, where we gifted backpacks filled with pens, markers, paper for homeless kids. Our program allowed kids in homeless shelters to go to school with new backpacks filled with school supplies. Our entire company would show up at the convention center and stuff backpacks all day. From the CFO to the company drivers, side by side, donating their time. It was an amazing event to see your entire organization giving back.

We created a databank of volunteering activities across NYC that would allow our people to give back.

Find your purpose

So my advice for 2020 in your organization, find your purpose. This is just as important as you are designing your organizational strategy. It will strengthen your EVP and engage your employees. Yes, the P&L and Organizational Strategy is important, but it has to be coupled with the purpose. That is the true formula for success for 2020 and beyond.