15 May How to have more impact: hire for the cause not for skill
There is an odd paradox about the work I do.
I spend 50% of my time teaching individuals how to launch their own purpose-led businesses and make a living doing what they love. My intention is to help them set up their dream business and change the world with their cause. It invariably leads to people leaving full times jobs within a year of commencing my DARETOGROW programmes.
With the other 50% of my time, I show purpose-led charities and businesses how to generate more reach and have a greater impact in their communities using digital marketing and online platforms. My intention is to help the organisations reach more people by empowering others to tell their story online. It invariably leads to new vacancies and the hiring of full time team members.
So what do I stand for? Self employment or employment? I stand for anything that is purpose led: where people come into a project, job, life or relationship consciously, willingly and with a shared sense of mission.
But here’s the problem. When I go into a company or charity with a mandate to train their teams on web design, digital marketing, online story telling and social media advertising I spark an interest in a lot of people who can see immediately how these new skills will help them when it comes time to launch their own venture.
That’s okay. It’s great for the individual who works darn hard in their current team and who will one day launch a movement of their own. That’s a positive thing. It’s a positive move for the organisation too because if someone has a drive to be self employed, it will never go away. You can trust me on that one!
But what if we could tweak that slightly? What if I could train people in a charity or business on everything digital and see their eyes light up as they realised what it would allow them to do in their roles, in house? What if the people I trained had found their calling and were right where they needed to be in that very moment: ready to take things to the next level for that employer, that cause, that community? What if they combined the training with the other resources available when working in a larger company – team, budget, reputation, brand, time – to magnify their efforts and have a real impact on the world?
Wouldn’t that be something!
It is possible but it requires a fundamental shift in two things: (1) the way the company leads; and, (2) the way the company hires. Let me explain.
Most MDs lead with a sense of vision. They set big targets, they have their eyes on the goals and they move in that direction, shouting back to the team: “This way everyone, we’re going this way”. Everyone is given a role profile and objectives that contribute to the achievement of those goals, people are hired for certain skillsets and team meetings are focused on progress towards those goals.
In a purpose led organisation something very different happens. The MD spends a lot of time digging deep into their own motivations: what inspires them, what drives them, why they’re here. They keep going until they uncover something very special: their purpose. They then spend their time communicating their mission, hiring people who share that mission and moving the obstacles out of people’s way. Your team will know what to do and how to do it when driven by the same cause as you.
What’s so powerful about this is that we all have a purpose. Whether we know it or not, we’ll keep coming back to it. It’s why we move jobs. It’s why we look forward to 5pm so we can spend time on our hobbies. It’s why we ask: “Is there more than this to life?”. It’s because we’re searching: searching for meaning.
And it is possible for everyone to find meaning in their jobs, their careers. Beyond earning a wage. Beyond making a contribution. But it requires a new way of thinking. It means helping people uncover their purpose and creating an environment where people live it out.
You see, when someone knows what their purpose is and they allow themselves to live from it, work from it, amazing things happen. It doesn’t matter whether you’re an employer, self-employed or an employee. People with a shared sense of purpose gravitate together and they work with each other until the job is done. Not because they’re paid to, not because they want to but because they feel compelled to do the work. As in – if you weren’t doing this work one way, you’d be doing it another way: you can’t help it. It’s your purpose. It’s why you’re here. It’s what you’ve been called to do.
Now imagine a group of people driven by a similar purpose, united by a common vision, following an inspired leader and empowered with training, time, budget and other resources. Now we’re talking!
This isn’t a pipe dream. It’s happening right now in silos. In online communities. People are uncovering their purpose, stepping up and changing the world. If you want to be part of this and tap into this power, here are a few ideas to consider.
Uncover your purpose
As a leader, MD or skilled individual it’s important to know why you’re here. What is your purpose? There are a few simple ways to figure this out. One is to ask yourself: “what am I here to do?”. It sounds oversimple, I know, but have you ever asked yourself what your purpose might be? Other questions you can ask include:
- What would I be going if I money was no object for me? How would I spend my days?
- What did I love doing when I was a child?
- If I had to give all my money to charity, which cause would I opt for and why?
- What lights me up in the world?
We all have a unique and compelling purpose in life. It’s there, in each of us, waiting to be discovered. Just ask the questions and follow that thread.
I uncovered my purpose in late 2015. I didn’t know we had a purpose in life at that stage. I was just on a mission to build great businesses, train my teams the best I could and make a living for my family. But there came a moment, as the money started to roll in and my businesses grew, that I realised just how unhappy I was. I learnt there was a great difference between success and fulfilment! And, as if guided by fate, someone gave me a copy of The Alchemist, Paulo Coelho’s most famous book. It tells the story of a shepherd who believes there is more to life than his humble home and flock. It’s a captivating parable about reaching for your dreams and finding the courage to make them your reality. One for the reading list! Over the next two years, I proceeded to sell my recruitment company, downsize my marketing agency and start again with IX7; the ‘i’ standing for ‘integrity’. This business is part of my movement.
Sometimes we have to start again or make major changes to live a life of passion; to run a purpose led organisation. And that is okay. It’s like pulling back the bow of an arrow – it must be pulled back in order to propel forward.
Hire for purpose, train for skill
When you know your purpose it’s important to make this shift: hire for purpose not for skill. You do this by communicating your purpose, articulating your mission and making it possible for people to find you and work with you. This is how you start a movement. One that works long into the night and rises early in the morning. One that carries itself across social media and into conversations outside of work.
The key to this is truth. It requires being vulnerable and showing people who you are and why you’re here. It means revealing a little piece of your soul to the world. We’ve all met people like this – people with that sparkle in their eyes, as if they know a secret in life they’re willing to share if only you’d ask. You need to become that person. Step into your purpose, communicate your mission and show how people can help you.
There will come a time when you need specialist skills – operations managers, web designers, fund raisers – yes. But how much more impactful would that person be if they had a true, all-consuming passion for the cause at hand. If they weren’t applying because they needed a job but because they could see that your company will help them live out their mission. These are the people who self-learn after-hours, who work more with less, who find a way through the trickiest of situations.
Build in purpose led questions into the interview stages. Tell your story at assessment centres and ask the applicants to tell theirs. Look for the individuals who are willing to share a piece of their soul with you, look for the people who are talking about your cause online – maybe they have a blog or an Instagram feed. Find out about their side-projects, hobbies and dream business ideas. Maybe you can’t ‘hire’ them as a team member but maybe you can engage them as a freelancer or consultant?
I work for a number of charities and organisations as a consultant. I train their teams on marketing, web design and story telling. I have a big passion for digital and my purpose is to help others live out their purpose. I know that digital is a huge enabler of this and that’s why it’s so important to me.
Let go of people who don’t share your cause – they’ll sabotage it accidentally
This is a tough one! Every organisation has people in it who don’t share the company’s mission. In fact, they might have a mission that conflicts with your own.
You know who these people are: their work is always late – not very late, just a little late. They find problems everywhere – not big problems, but little issues. And disruption is part of their routine.
It’s not that they’re deliberately trying to sabotage things, it’s just that there values are set differently. It means they disagree, deep down, with the way things are run in your team or business. It means they have their own idea of how things should be done. That’s okay! We need this variety in the world but we don’t always need it in the team!
Find the courage to help these people move on. Don’t move them into a new role or another part of the business to appease the situation. Have an honest and truthful conversation and help them find employment in something more aligned to their personal cause and values. If you don’t, you might find that the people true to your cause move on instead!
Find out more
Running a purpose led organisation is very different to running a vision-led organisation. It’s about mission driven work – it’s push, not pull. It means that anyone can set the vision because you’re all driven by the same motive, the same cause; your rules are the same and you want the same outcome.
Living a life of passion is a desire we all have. Tap into your purpose and you’ll change the work you work, the way you run business . Find other people who share your mission, empower them with training, tools and means and you’ll change the world.