Skift gear – how purpose can bring back your focus.
Some friends and clients of mine, as of many other businesses are going through very uncertain times right now. Some companies are thriving due to a higher demand caused by COVID-19 others are striving, trying to hold on to something to help them to get through.
The economy is clearly on a downhill, which mean all business more or less are facing an uphill. Maybe you feel you lost momentum, lost all speed in this uphill climb, so what do you do? Some people try to think positive, and that is extremely important, but some are afraid to shift gear the get the speed back up. When we drive and come to a steep hill, and notice we lose speed and momentum when the engine doesn’t seem to have enough power to get us up the mountain we shift gear, we gear down. When we gear down, the engine has more ability to pick up more speed. But in our business we are sometimes are afraid to shift gear down, we feel we just got into a higher gear, and now we want to go faster and faster.
But what does shifting down gear mean, how does it look like in a business, and how can we use it to get back into momentum. The answer lays very much in your business purpose. When you started your journey, you probably was full of passion, full of hope. Maybe you started on your own, perhaps you took over as CEO with only a handful of staff and now you are over 100. When we gear down, it is all about getting back the speed and use the engine at its fullest potential. That engine is your employees, people are your biggest asset, and you need to get that engine going again, to take you to the top.
Your purpose is why you do the things you do, many of you are thinking and trying to figure out a different way of WHAT you should be doing and HOW to do it. But if you don’t get back to the core of your business and communicate it to your employees, why you are in the business in the first place, you are going to lose the fight of finding a new way forward. The way of how to start doing thing differently to both survive and thrive in a season of challenges
A business purpose is more significant than how big profit you are aiming for, and it is the core of how you serve you costumers, how you play a part of the community and county. It is to help and add value to people with your product or service.
When the financial crisis hit 2008, Gerry Anderson, the CEO of DTE Energy USA, understood he would need to ask his employees to put in that extra energy and to shift gear. He realised that people go the extra mile for things they believe in, something more significant. As a company delivering electricity, he needed to tell DTE’s purpose to every employee. When he communicated that DTE doesn’t just deliver power, they bring healing into the community by providing electricity to the hospitals, and they serve people by making their houses warm and many other things how they deliver value to costumers and community, the shift happened.
DTE didn’t lose anything; they grew amid a crisis, and so can you.
Purpose makes you think about why you started your business in the first place, and maybe you started to add things along the way into your business that isn’t your core or connected to your purpose. You just saw an opportunity to make some extra money along the way. Maybe it’s time to shift your gear, get back into that purpose and get back into that journey that you started. Purpose makes people go that extra mile, we all want to be part of something bigger, something we believe in, so do you, and so does your employees.
Questions you can ask your self as a business.
- What is our noblest purpose, and are we fulfilling it?
- How can we give our employees a greater sense of meaning in what they do, so they feel more enthusiastic about coming to work every morning?
- In what practical ways can we add more value in the world (and do less harm)? And if so, is your purpose specific enough to defend?
- What’s our plan for defending our purpose despite short-term temptations?