The Power Duo: Internal Communications and People Leaders as Architects of Purpose

Apr 03, 2024
The Power Duo: Internal Communications and People Leaders as Architects of Purpose

By Stacey Hajdak, Senior Vice President

There’s no doubt about it – employees on the front lines at any company have the advantage of feeling a closer connection to their organization’s ‘why.’ Think about it: Those who lead the company and serve the customer play a much more direct role in delivering their company’s mission.

This connection to purpose is meaningful – perhaps vital – and it creates a host of benefits. Gallup’s research demonstrates that front-line employees are markedly more engaged, committed, productive, innovative and likely to stay with the organization longer.

So, what about IT helpdesk employees, accounting and finance staff, administrative assistants, security, maintenance staff? For employees whose work is focused internally or provides behind-the-scenes support to frontline workers, it can be difficult for them to discern how their role supports the organization’s mission.

It takes many roles to achieve success. When we watch a movie, we get to see the gorgeous cinematography and talented acting that creates emotion within us. Behind the scenes, we find sound engineers, lighting experts, catering professionals, and set designers who join with those on screen in a shared vision that makes the magic happen for audiences. Everyone’s contributions matter.

How can you create that important clarity and understanding for those farther away from the front line?

The trick is unlocking two powerful stakeholder groups in your organizational ecosystem: your internal communications team and people managers.

Key#1:  The indispensable internal communications team

Internal communications pros are uniquely positioned to help shape and tell the organization’s story and connect employee stories to the overall mission. IC teams serve as the connective tissue between the people – employees, leadership, partners, and, often, customers – and the brand, crafting strategic initiatives that both align with organizational strategy and resonate emotionally with the workforce.

Regardless of whether the IC team reports through communications, marketing or human resources, it’s part of the role to deeply understand our internal audiences. This insight equips us to create meaningful content and engaging activities that communicate the impact created by the organization.

Here are some useful ways you can help connect your people to your organization’s purpose:

  • Collaborate with team leads across functions to draw out how their function drives impact and organizational purpose.
  • Collect a working list of examples of how the functions’ roles are essential in driving purpose within the organization, and on specific initiatives.
  • Share customer stories that illustrate how behind-the-scenes roles are crucial to making an impact.
  • Display visuals and testimonials from customers highlighting the significance of the company’s work.
  • Organize visits and other interactions with customers to give those in support roles a more direct look at the purpose they enable.


Key#2: The power of people leaders

People leaders shape employee experience in an intimate and powerful way. Gallup tells us that more than any other factor, managers influence team engagement, performance and retention. They’re the link between executive leadership and the organization, where deep conversations and interactions happen, and they hold the ability to engage employees and keep them motivated or even damage sentiment.

It makes sense then that we should help this influential group draw a connection to purpose for their employees, whether they’re on the front lines or several degrees away. These are some suggestions for how you can equip and activate people managers to help drive workforce connection to purpose:

  • Ensure people leaders, especially in support functions, have a strong understanding of the company’s strategy and priorities. When launching annual strategy and new initiatives, create space for this group to receive, digest and ask questions as they cascade this information to their employees.
  • When important company information and news is shared, give specific instructions about how people leaders should cascade information to their teams. Give them a chance to preview and ask questions. Marking the content with a framework such as know, share and do makes taking action crystal clear.
  • Encourage and help equip people managers to highlight how their team specifically contributes to driving purpose, through storytelling, recognition and examples in team meetings, on facility boards and in town halls.
  • Create opportunities or establish channels that allow people leaders to share best practices and seek advice from their peers.
  • Conduct engaging training that is geared to their needs for techniques and skills such as communication, information cascades, presentation, and leadership.
  • Give them a way to provide constructive feedback.

Most of us seek to be part of something bigger than ourselves, to understand how we fit in and how our contributions make a difference. Everyone from the CEO to the customer service representative, from the accountant to the IT helpdesk hero, can play a part in helping a company’s purpose come alive.

To create a compelling connection between people and purpose at your organization, lean on these two groups: your indispensable internal communications team and powerful people leaders. When properly equipped, they can inspire and enhance unity, motivation, engagement and performance throughout the ranks.

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