Last week we took a look at some leaders who have successfully transformed the culture of their companies by staying focused on purpose. As we’ve seen, purpose can be an amazing tool to instigate collective movement and change in your company. With just the right amount of passion and support, purpose can transform idle, listless cultures into vibrant hotbeds of innovation.
If you want to derive tangible returns, purpose must be more than words. It must be actionable. Your objective should be stimulating emotional engagement and the desire to join in something larger than self. Purpose should cause employees to show their colors, spout their organizational pride, tell the world about the purpose and recognize the opportunity to create their own stories with each interaction.
The Age of the “Uncarrier”
In 2012, John Legere (pronounced like “ledger”) took over as CEO of T-Mobile. Known for speaking his mind, Legere’s immediate success can be attributed to his ability to listen. Customers of the two giant wireless companies were getting fed up with the industry and its confusing contracts and overage charges. Legere heard what customers were saying, felt their pain, and then challenged his competitors with a fearless spirit and straightforward approach.
John Legere brought a new vision, and a new vocabulary. Not just in words shared with his Twitter followers and the CEOs of competing companies. He also changed the vernacular inside T-Mobile. The company’s values were no longer expressed as “Core Values,” but rather as “How We Play.” He encouraged his people to be bold and be themselves. He embraced the company’s magenta color and encouraged his staff to follow suit. After all, magenta is more than a color to T-Mobile. It’s the “Uncarrier” spirit of the company, and it flows through the veins of the employees aligned with Legere’s vision and purpose.
Purposeful Messaging Matters
When we work with companies to build their employer brands, messaging is nuanced for each audience. We develop messaging architectures to map communications objectives to desired outcomes and behaviors for employee audiences to ensure communications are compelling and on strategy. Embedding purpose is dependent on paying inordinate attention to the detailed and varied needs of each audience.
For T-Mobile, we conducted extensive research with employees through focus groups, one-on-one interviews with key leaders and conversations with top performers representing all business groups. T-Mobile’s new consumer brand and “un-leash” tagline were critical to evolving the employer brand. We were also independently compelled to take the opportunity to push boundaries on our own. We did so by using employee generated content (EGC) to bring the brand to life.
Adopting John Legere’s unconventional, unrestrained, straight-shooter approach, we set out to capture authentic imagery and stories to serve as the foundation for our employer brand. We helped get the effort launched by providing instruction and inspiring employees to capture content using only their mobile devices. We also wanted to inspire workplace related conversation in social media, just as Legere has done himself. We introduced a social call-to-action – #BeMagenta – and wouldn’t you know it, people are really starting to talk.
Unite Your Workforce. Unleash Your Purpose.
As you can see, aligning employees with purpose yields powerful outcomes that can propel company growth and innovation. The bottom line implications are obvious and the relative investment minimal. Employees that embrace organizational purpose are more enthusiastic and productive. When it’s activated, purpose contributes to employee satisfaction, attracts the right prospects and yields a better customer experience. Your company can see a rise in profitability and a boost in your reputation.
Since John Legere brought his showmanship, larger-than-life presence and “Uncarrier” initiatives to T-Mobile, the company has been on quite a run. A recent financial report shows increasing revenues and subscribers, exceeding 50.5 million. In a recent tweet (He’s approaching a half million followers @JohnLegere) Legere declared that T-Mobile would overtake Sprint before the end of 2014, becoming the number three U.S. wireless carrier. Considering the success he’s had to date, I’m not about to bet against him.
Are T-Mobile employees in alignment with their fearless leader’s purpose? You be the judge. At one of the company’s recent “Uncarrier” events, a boxing-ring announcer introduced Legere. Perhaps he got the idea after watching the T-Mobile Employer Brand Launch video. Or was the employee in the video with his “dukes up” simply following his lead? Either way, there’s alignment happening here. And employee alignment is the prize that can be achieved through a clearly defined purpose.
Are your employees aligned with your company’s purpose? Send us a message at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow us on Twitter @JWTINSIDE.