Clear communication is crucial for any business or organisation. A large part of our work at Concision is working with clients to define what they do and find just the right words to express it.
An obvious benefit of this is to reach customers more effectively. But we’ve also been thinking about how a strong message can make a business more resilient, even during times of change, growth or crisis.
A while back, Rob Baker, director of business consultancy Tailored Thinking, came into the Concision office to present some compelling research on how important it is for any organisation to be clear on its ‘purpose.’ We asked him to tell us more about where communication fits in to this, and how it can help keep a business on track.
The importance of ‘purpose’
“Purpose, for me, explains why the company exists and why they do what they do,” Rob told us.
“Organisations that are most effective at taking their people and customers with them during times of change are those that use their purpose message to steer their decisions and communicate the rationale for why these are being made.”
A clear purpose is valuable from the earliest days of a startup. Your purpose should explain why your business exists, over and above simply making a profit.
“An effective purpose should be precise, clear and easy to understand by those within and outside the business,” Rob suggests. The purpose should be authentically demonstrated in all areas of the business, and is most effective when distilled into a concise message.
Change without confusion
However, that purpose can become confused or fall by the wayside during a time of change, such as a period of high growth, a transfer of ownership or a shift in strategy. So how can a business avoid this?
Don’t leave people in the dark
Clear, regular communication can be crowded out by other priorities during times of upheaval, but this can be counter-productive.
“Organisations communicate less than they should during periods of change,” Rob observes. “Written communications should be supported by other means such as meetings, drop-in sessions etc. It does take time and energy to do this – but staff and customers will be thankful for it and it is just the right thing to do.”
Use your purpose to keep everyone on board
As your staff grows, make sure your purpose comes through in all your internal communications. Employees benefit from feeling that they’re “pulling in the ‘right’ and same direction,” Rob told us.
Show how your purpose is guiding decisions
Rather than giving the impression that your business is changing in response to external factors, make sure everyone can see how your purpose is driving your decisions.
“These ‘how’ and ‘why’ factors are often missed,” Rob says. By regularly referencing the purpose of your business in discussions and documents relating to transformation, you can ensure everyone can see how the changes your making are clearly driven by the purpose they originally signed up to.
Purpose can fuel growth
Airbnb is often described as an industry ‘disruptor’. It has grown rapidly since starting up just nine years ago: more than 200 million guests have found accommodation all over the world via its website.
According to Amanpreet Bajaj, country manager of Airbnb India, Airbnb’s purpose is “to create a world where everyone can belong anywhere, and I think that’s the main mission of the company. It drives everyone forward.”
Airbnb’s recent ad campaign – “Don’t go there. Live there.” – demonstrates how this original focus is still driving the business.
Getting the message right
Message is our starting point with all our clients at Concision. Before we can produce targeted, effective content, we need to understand an organisation’s purpose, what they need to communicate, and to whom. Once that’s in place, everything else follows.
If you think your business needs to sharpen its focus, whatever stage it’s at, please get in touch; we’d love to help.
Rob Baker is the founder and director of Tailored Thinking, a positive business consultancy working with forward-thinking organisations to create healthy, happy and high-performing workplaces. Based in Durham with a young family, he blends his previous experiences as an HR director and leader, a researcher of Positive Psychology and wellbeing science, and as an international athlete to deliver tailored consultancy advice, workshops and keynote presentations.
You can contact Rob at firstname.lastname@example.org.