This article has been originally published at Humentum
By Joanne Sonenshine, Founder + CEOConnective Impact
Perform an online search of “purpose at the workplace,” and you’ll find more than 21 million (MILLION!) results. Purpose, impact, social good, mission – these are all of the terms that drive today’s workforce. There’s simply no denying it.
Understanding the complexities of seeking purpose inside one’s four organizational walls is what propelled me to write my second book, Purposeful Profits: Inside Successful Businesses Making a Positive Global Impact. I wanted to better understand how purpose drives change from within. This topic is also one I shared with an audience of about twenty-five participants at last month’s Humentum conference here in DC. The theme? Growing Trust for Greater Impact. What better way is there to institute trust from within than to build on employees’ sense of purpose and mission?
Of course, this is easier said than done. Figuring out methods to leverage organizational strengths and assets, to build upon existing networks and find suitable engagement is challenging. As a partnership strategist, my go-to is always to seek collaboration, particularly where there’s a comparative advantage. If you want to make an impact, though, and you see your organization as being the conduit, it IS doable. Some may wonder whether that’s the case given cost, time and complexities of network-building, partnership identification, finding overlapping purposes, etc.
Here are three ways to make it work:
- Start with who you know
Consider your suppliers, customers, colleagues, managers, vendors, and even competitors. What are they already working towards that jives with your mission or purpose goal? How could their projects, commitments, goals or programs feed into an organizational program that you develop that suits your personal mission or purpose? What impacts are others having that appeal to you? How can your company help advance its mission? What small adjustments can you make within your existing day-to-day that may help develop a small element of what these potential partners are doing to create change? Some examples may include: creating a compost or food waste program in partnership with your waste provider, thinking about new sustainable vendor arrangements, identifying ways to create a corporate giving program, considering what competitors are doing that fit with what you see your organization doing as well, and reaching out to join forces around a particular goal or commitment.
- Think about ways to partner within your locale, or community
Ask around and find out what’s needed. Identify opportunities to engage your company in a program or project; be it volunteer or philanthropic. Where do you see excitement or energy among your colleagues that you can propel locally? Some examples may include: seeing how to support a local hiring program, providing meals to the elderly, donating products to servicemen or women. Understanding how other local companies are giving back or creating impact programs and joining forces with them, is easy to do and provides a great deal of community benefit at the same time. Organizations learn from each other, find ways to collaborate and can create more impact with fewer resources.
- Consider what may be an ‘extra’ or ‘add-on’ for your organization to give, whether a product or service and find ways to provide to others
Do you produce too much supply of a product that you are paying for but don’t use? Is there something easily and cheaply procured that could be of benefit to others? What other missions, or sense of purpose, drive your colleagues that may encourage them to try a new service for free, or give back in volunteer hours? Capturing the impact of those investments can aid your organization in sharing its impact stories, as well.
You may also want to consider what’s working well with existing partnerships, or where elements may need to be tweaked. Think about gaps that exist, and where engagement with another partner or entity could fill those gaps. Don’t forget to regularly monitor how your work on delivering impact is going, both for yourself and your organization. Do you see progress? Do you feel a sense of fulfillment? Is your organization benefitting? Are your stakeholders? Create check-in points to determine when a project or program is delivering on schedule versus when shifts will be necessary.
Are you wondering when to scale or when to cut a partnership loose? Try our free Partnership Evaluation Tool. We also have a bunch of partnership for impact ideas for you in our online toolkit: Partnerships, Purpose and Profit. See where your personal mission and sense of purpose and your organization’s ability to make a broader impact meet in the middle. The end result will truly benefit so many.