We had an exercise recently with Simon Sinek’s organization to re-visit our Purpose Statement and Guiding Principles. For us they are not just words on a wall, but the very essence of who we are and why we exist. The exercise started off with sharing stories of what made each of us feel proud to work where we do. As we shared the stories around the table, it became clear that each person was passionately engaged in what we were creating.
Jon R. Katzenbach, suggested in his book “Why Pride Matters More Than Money” that pride grows out of “the relentless pursuit of worthwhile endeavors.” This “intrinsic pride” becomes “institution-building” when it “prompts the kind of effective, customer-focused behaviors” that distinguish an organization from its rivals. Commitment based on “self-serving or materialistic gains,” he adds, is “short-term, transient, and risky.” It doesn’t unleash “the kind of emotional commitment” that builds “long-term sustainability.”
Knowing that the values of the company you work for align with your own individual values is an important indicator in the number of proud moments you will experience there and likely an indicator of your level of potential engagement and commitment.
It would be difficult to work for former Baltimore Mayor Catherine E. Pugh who was recently charged with wire fraud and tax evasion and feel proud of the company you were keeping. She is accused of ripping off nonprofit organizations and taxpayers by accepting payments for tens of thousands of books she never intended to deliver. Pugh used the money, according to court papers, to fund her mayoral bid and to buy and renovate a house in Baltimore. Very few of us would wish to work for an organization that exhibited these values, and, if we did find ourselves in this position, would probably feel compelled to put in as little time and energy as possible, while feverishly looking for another job.
Figure out in advance what makes you feel proud and what stories you would want to recount about why you felt proud of the company you work for. It likely has little to do with their financial results or their share price. It likely does have to do with how they treat people and the value they place on doing what’s right, not what’s easy.
Some of the stories that surfaced for us revolved around caring for an employee in a very difficult personal situation, making a choice that we felt was right but certainly not financially prudent, volunteering, caring for our residents in ways that went above and beyond what anyone would expect.
Each company will have its own unique brand and style, but the next time you are contemplating switching jobs, ask the recruiter what some of their most proud moments have been and ensure that they align with what would make you feel proud.