Growth stage

The importance of Purpose and why your start-up needs one.

Companies who clearly articulate their purpose enjoy higher growth rates and higher levels of success.

Bretton Putter

An interview with Pedro Oliveira co-founder of Landing.jobs

How Landing.Jobs uses a well defined Purpose, Mission and Vision to differentiate itself from its competitors

An interview with Pedro Oliveira co-founder of Landing.jobs

Highlights include:

  • Purpose: How Landing.jobs is "changing the lives of our candidates for the better"
  • The difference between Mission, Vision, Values & Purpose
  • How to craft a company Purpose Statement
  • How a strong sense of collective purpose drives employee satisfaction and helps increase customer loyalty.
  • Why Landing.jobs developed an internal and external set of values

A start-up company will ideally be able to define a purpose, or associate itself with a purpose which is bigger than the company. A clearly defined purpose will almost always result in a deeply motivated team who will go above and beyond in order for the company to achieve success. This is because a start-up company with a strong culture which consists of a vision, mission, core values AND a purpose, is able to operate at the pinnacle of the Start-up Hierarchy of Needs pyramid, thereby allowing employees to self-actualise and make a difference in their day-to-day work.

Research has shown that fulfilling a purpose drives happiness and wellbeing on an individual level. In a study tracking the post college success of students, researchers at the University of Rochester found that students who had “extrinsic motivation” and were focused on becoming wealthy or achieving fame, reported lower levels of satisfaction and wellbeing than when they were at college. Students, who were more purpose focused and who had “intrinsic motivations” which they were achieving, reported higher levels of satisfaction and wellbeing than they did when they were at college. Building a business with a purpose will have a knock on effect on your people and in your business.

In 2015 Harvard Business Review together with EY conducted a survey entitled 'The Business Case for Purpose' in order to understand why, and how, companies are employing purpose to drive performance, strategy and decision-making. In the global survey of 474 executives it was found that there was a clear agreement about the value of purpose in driving performance. However only a small percentage of the companies appeared to have successfully embedded their purpose to a point where they were able to realise its value. In the companies where purpose had been embedded successfully, executives reported a greater ability to deliver revenue growth and drive successful innovation.

“We found a very high level of consensus among these executives that purpose matters, and a widespread belief that it has positive effects on key performance drivers. The survey also demonstrates that companies who clearly articulate their purpose enjoy higher growth rates and higher levels of success.” Valerie Keller Global Lead, EY Beacon Institute

Often people assume that purpose based performance improvement comes from hard-to-pin-down qualities such as inspiration, leadership or the motivational effect of working for a good cause. The challenge with purpose is that it is like a “black box”; it is also similar to values in that its mechanics are mostly invisible and hidden from view. The fact of the matter is that purpose, vision, mission and values all combine to define a company's culture. Your company is significantly less effective if your culture is missing a clearly defined mission, vision, purpose or values.

Mission, Vision, Values & Purpose

  • A mission statement is designed to keep the team focused on the core business and inform the external market what the company is about.
  • A vision statement describes the company’s intention about the future that it believes it can, or is, creating.
  • The vision is about the future and the mission is about how your company will create the future.
  • A values statement describes what is important to your team at any given moment in time.
  • A purpose statement will communicate your company’s impact on the lives of the people who your business serves - your customers, your partners or your community.

Creating your Purpose Statement

A well-crafted purpose statement will inspire your team to go the extra mile, to overachieve and to do amazing work for your company. Key elements to consider when defining your company’s purpose include:

How is your business…

  • Creating value for the customer, partner and/or community
  • Positively impacting wider society/the community
  • Inspiring creativity and innovation
  • Providing your team with a sense of meaning and fulfilment
  • Generating financial returns for shareholders
  • Contributing to a sustainable world
  • Reducing negative impact on the environment while reducing costs
  • Encouraging perseverance from your team through challenging situations

A great explanation of what Purpose is was given by David Packard in 1960, in a speech to Hewlett-Packard’s training group, he said, “I want to discuss why a company exists in the first place. In other words, why are we here? I think many people assume, wrongly, that a company exists simply to make money. While this is an important result of a company’s existence, we have to go deeper and find the real reasons for our being.”

Packard continued, “Purpose (which should last at least 100 years) should not be confused with specific goals or business strategies (which should change many times in 100 years). Whereas you might achieve a goal or complete a strategy, you cannot fulfill a purpose; it’s like a guiding star on the horizon—forever pursued but never reached. Yet although purpose itself does not change, it does inspire change. The very fact that purpose can never be fully realized means that an organization can never stop stimulating change and progress.”

I sat down with Pedro Oliveira the co-founder of Landing.jobs to discuss how he and his co-founder Jose approached the challenge of defining the company’s purpose and values.

BP

How did you approach defining your company values?

PO

My co-founder Jose and I started the values definition process by creating a set of golden rules for the business. At the time, when we were defining the golden rules, the Lisbon tech ecosystem was starting up and there was a situation where a lot of start-up founders were focused on winning pitching contests to try and raise funding from a very small investor pool. We didn’t feel that pitching at contests was a valuable use of our time and it felt like those start-ups were not building legitimate businesses. So we decided not to be a contest winning start-up, instead we chose to be pragmatic and focus on building a great boot strapped business. We designed the business and the model to be revenue generating and profitable as soon as possible and we are now two years old with 30 staff spread across 4 countries.

We used a 2-step process to define the Landing.jobs values. As part of a rebranding exercise, we sat down with the team to discuss the pervading values of the business at the time and the core values we aspired to as a team. We then created two sets of values, the first set of values is for our team internally and the second is set of values is focused on the promise we make to our clients and candidates. Both sets of values are of course, relevant to our team.

Core internal team values:

  • We strive to hit our individual & team goals and get rewarded with more responsibility & growth. We only drink coffee when we close.
  • We do things with a purpose and enforce a pragmatic attitude.
  • We learn everyday with each other and from our community.
  • We celebrate matches and championships victories, not goals.
  • We share & collaborate amongst ourselves.
  • We have fun.

Values to the outside world – the promise to our candidates and clients:

  • We give (continuous) feedback.
  • We are transparent.
  • We’re committed to changing lives every day.
  • We love to develop our community.
  • We’re closers, we can land you a job.

We review and update the values from time to time, we believe that as the business changes, so the culture evolves and the values can then be adapted if necessary.  Our values are not written down or posted on the walls of the office.  We aim to live them in our day-to-day behaviour. Every couple of months Jose or I will send an email reminding our team what the values are and how they will have noticed them in action in the company.

BP

What is Landing.Jobs' purpose?

PO

The majority of our clients are exciting high growth technology companies that are innovating and trying to change the world. Imagine you were one of our candidates and we placed you at the next Facebook or Google. Helping one of our candidates join a company that is successfully disrupting an industry will give them an incredible step up in their career.

We realised, however that we do more than just find excellent people great jobs. We are in the business of changing the lives of our candidates for the better. This is demonstrated, not only by the candidates who we help get new jobs, but also by how we help and coach candidates who do not yet qualify to be on the Landing.jobs platform. We advise these candidates on what they need to do to improve their skills, so that they are more suited to our clients needs. We see ourselves as being in the life-changing business, because we’ve already helped so many people change their career paths and more importantly their lives for the better.

We use the purpose of changing lives for the better as a differentiator when we are hiring for Landing.jobs. We ask the potential employee a simple question: why would you choose to work in a big faceless bank or for a big brand like Coca Cola where you are just a spoke in the wheel? Instead you could join Landing.jobs and make a real impact by helping someone get an amazing job that will change their lives and that of their families and your can help shape our business as we grow.

BP

How have you embedded the purpose and values into the company?

PO

As a team and as individuals we strive to do things with a purpose and that should match our stated purpose of changing the lives of our candidates for the better. So we can look at an action or decision we are going to take and evaluate it against our values and/or our purpose. If there is any sort of conflict or argument in the team about which route to take we simply go back to our values or purpose and we find that this helps clarify the right way forward.

BP

You have a young team, what have you done to build the skills and expertise in your team?

PO

We regularly hold teaching sessions where one team member will spend an hour teaching something they know about or are interested in, to the other team. We also try to involve our developer community in these sessions. For example our team requested a session on project management so we asked a candidate whom we had placed at a company to come in for an hour to give a workshop on project management. We have so much knowledge and value in our community and that session was also a great success.

We encourage lateral thinking by having a “release your creativity” session with the team. We ask the team to come up with really crazy or really stupid ideas, the wilder the better. We then connect one team’s ideas with another and try to find something of interesting to explore further. It’s a lot of fun, a great way to relax people, get them to be comfortable with brainstorming and we get some pretty interesting ideas from the sessions.  

BP

What do you do for your clients and placement candidates that’s different to your competitors?

PO

We over communicate and give continuous feedback to candidates, which is really important for them to understand where they are in the process.  We are brutally honest and transparent with candidates, especially the ones that we have to reject. Our aim is to show that we care and our team will reject them with compassion so that they appreciate us for our honesty and caring. We often have cases where a rejected candidate will refer one of their friends to us. They know we care and to us they are not just a number to us.

We also give our client companies insight into the black box of the company back end which, allows them to see how the process is unfolding, how many candidates are in the pipeline and what the time to review is. None of our competitors do this.

We do a lot of work with the development community and include our clients in our events. We have our own festival where we invite companies from Switzerland, Spain, Ireland, UK and Germany to come to Lisbon and meet and interact with at least 1000 potentially suitable candidates.

BP

How do you onboard new employees?

PO

A new joiner gets a company branded tshirt and notebook on their first day. It’s a small gesture but the t-shirt in particular demonstrates to them that they are part of the team. It’s important to get the new joiners up to speed as quickly as possible and on the first day we try to give them a sense of what everyone in the company does and is responsible for. New joiners will go on sales call, will join in on a call with a prospective candidate, will meet with the CTO to discuss our technology and will meet the founders, ideally during their first day or first few days. The Head of Department for the new joiner is responsible for organising their first day and making sure it goes smoothly. Onboarding is really important to our company and we try to give the new joiner a sense of our values and culture from their first day.

BP

What culture building experiences or rituals do you have in the company?

PO

We do a lot across the company. Our sales team understands that it’s crucial to close the deal. We have a saying that we only drink coffee when we close. It’s like in football, you can celebrate a goal but that’s not the same as winning the match. Celebrating the match is what we are about. It’s become a motto to remind everyone that a deal isn’t done until it’s done. I use different media to tell a story because getting your message across is all about story telling. In the coming weeks I will be showing the team a 60 second clip from the Wolf of Wall Street where DiCaprio is telling the team that they have to pick up the phone and commit to doing the job, because they can be whatever they want to be. That 60 second clip will do the job of reinforcing our message of selling and closing.

At the moment, when one of our candidates lands a job by a client the person responsible for landing the job gets to ring a cowbell. We might have to review this practice though, as it’s a getting a bit noisy now.

Our operations team do a lot of work to build the culture in the company. OpShops are a time for knowledge sharing, brainstorming and creating discussions, and we organise one for the operations team most weeks. We do Hackathons for Operations where we follow up and call candidates who are on the platform, asking them how we can be of assistance or add value, how the process is going and for general feedback on their experience with the company. We do team lunches every Friday and regular meetups. Another ritual at the Friday lunch session is where we ask a question that everybody around the table must answer. Questions like, Where would you go if you could choose a one month free trip? or If you could live at any other moment in human history, when would it be and why? We also have a #Winning Slack channel to broadcast the company’s successes and have been sharing our own "team stuff" on our instagram lately:

We also have networking events, webinars and talks on subjects like remote working, building a good CV for engineers and distributed systems We also do cool things like hold drone races. We have different types of team building sessions during the year. We will fly everyone over to Lisbon for Christmas dinner. Our product team still holds the record in Lisbon for one of the Escape the Room challenges; I think it stands at about 30 minutes. We sponsor events and do hackerschools.

When someone leaves the company we have a goodbye drinks session and where possible, we do our best to keep in contact and a good ongoing relationship. At the end of the day we want our team to be happy and we will do our best to make them happy at Landing.Jobs, but we are realistic and understand if we can’t make them happy. Our Head of Ops David Bento went to London left to join Deliveroo. We still keep in touch regularly and he works out of our offices when he is back in Lisbon. We see him and the other people who chose to leave as part of the Landing.Jobs alumni.

BP

How do you handle employee reviews?

PO

We prepare for each review and collect feedback from the team beforehand. We either have one or both founders and the head of that person’s department. We talk about the positive achievements and feedback and discuss what we would like them to improve. It’s not a negative session. Their bonus is evaluated by one peer and two employees and founder and is calculated based on individual and team goal achievement.