We spoke to 40 organizations
About Purpose and Talent and here is what we found:
We at Emzingo are pretty fired up that “purpose” is bordering on becoming (or maybe already is) a buzzword. That means it is going mainstream. Even if only in conversation or within certain circles, this makes us smile. And we’ve linked every use of the word purpose in this post to an article about the topic. That’s 14 links if you’re counting (title not included).
Emzingo loves purpose. We love helping students and professionals find careers with purpose. We love helping purpose-driven organizations create or improve cultures that reinforce their purpose and values. We continue to be enthusiastic about our own company’s purpose.
As part of an ongoing initiative to see how Emzingo can best serve our existing clients and purpose-driven organizations, we decided to host a series of “discovery interviews” with a number purpose-driven companies, business accelerators, and consultants. We are using the results to design modified and new services in 2016-2017. Given Emzingo’s emphasis on leadership development, we interviewed ~40 Senior Leaders and Human Resources personnel about talent development and professional growth at their respective purpose-driven organizations.
Our goal was to listen.
We collected qualitative data that has helped us empathize with and craft even better solutions for purpose-driven organizations.
Here are some highlights and anecdotes from these interviews and why we think you’ll find each interesting:
1. The biggest focus for professional development is on job function and/or technical training. It makes sense that the “blocking and tackling” of running an organization is where a company would invest the majority of its resources. However, we have observed a clear (and admitted) lack of investment in leadership development and new manager training. As an organization grows, matures, or adjusts to new market conditions, leadership and creative skills become more and more important. You can get the product out the door, but are you setting yourself up for the long haul with an engaged, well-equipped leadership pipeline?
2. Only 7 of the organizations we interviewed had formal budgets and a formal approval process for professional development opportunities. We found this number to be a little bit concerning. It isn’t the lack of formality, per se, that is concerning though. The concern – and also opportunity – is that without a structure in place, only a small group of incredibly proactive employees were capitalizing on training and development opportunities. It also means that these companies will have a hard time placing an ROI on employee development. Lastly, we walked away from these conversations uncertain about how well an organization could develop its employees without planning or a long-term professional growth strategy. We believe there is a lot of untapped potential and, thus, business opportunities left on the table.
3. Innovation, communication, and attracting/retaining/developing millennials were the three company needs that came up most often. We repeated ourselves a number of times during these interviews. “Don’t worry. You’re not alone”, we remarked, when an interviewee would mention innovation, communication, or millennials as areas of focus or improvement. We had a diverse pool of interviewees across revenue, number of employees, sector, and geography. The mention of innovation, communication, and millennials serves as an indicator that many companies – despite these differences – are fighting similar battles. To stay ahead in a competitive environment, innovation is key. To effectively manage teams and keep values/purpose at the forefront of conversations, communication is key. Issues related to recruiting, job design, and employee development, with the newest and now largest generation in the workforce, is relevant when it comes to people development for purpose-driven organizations. At Emzingo, we encourage organizations to define leadership development in a way that promotes a culture of innovation, increases honest, frequent communication, and integrates a multi-generational workforce.
We hope that if you started, lead, or work at what you would consider a purpose-driven organization, you’ll give some thought to your long-term vision and the way your current employees will develop and grow with the organization over time. According to leadership guru Ken Blanchard’s report, at least 9% and possibly as much as 32% of an organization’s voluntary turnover can be avoided through better leadership skills. It’s worth the investment.