Reed Hoffman. The power of the goal in work

Original author: Reid Hoffman
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In 2002, LinkedIn had very few bonuses that Silicon Valley is famous for. The headquarters of the company was my apartment. Maybe free dinners? Only if there was extra yogurt in the fridge or a can of cola if you could find it lunch. Ergonomic sleep cabins, yoga class, wellness centers, concierge services, or can there be a free haircut? Not.

And yet, every day my co-founders came very early and stayed up late. We looked for opportunities to improve service, reputation, trust and analyzed the data. Our goal was to create a platform that will create earning opportunities for every person in the world. This is an ambitious project and it gave us strength for its implementation.

In a startup get-together, when teams are still small and almost every participant risks everything with the desire to create something potentially outstanding, it is relatively easy to find purposeful people.

But to become a dream company, we knew that in the end we needed more than a wide variety of employees, with diverse skills and temperaments, which would inevitably lead to a change in the existing corporate culture. In my courses with friends, in our class at Stanford, we tell you that a company with a staff of a hundred people cannot function effectively using the tactics that companies with ten employees work with. For successful work you have to change tactics.

Nevertheless, we were determined to maintain our common sense of purpose as a fundamental value, even as the company's staff grew. In job interviews, we always emphasized this. Any change to the platform should improve it so that the economic opportunities of users only increase.

Persistently emphasizing our philosophy, we inevitably abandoned some potentially talented employees who were not ready to agree with it. Thus, we attracted like-minded people, which ensured the immutability of our policy even when we began to expand our staff.

Today, LinkedIn has over 9,200 employees. Needless to say, we went beyond my apartment, and now the company is dispersed in offices in more than 30 cities around the world. And the choice of free drinks soon became wider.

But while tartare with salmon and avocados in our cafe and a bunch of other bonuses make working on LinkedIn very pleasant, the defining feature of our employees is a sense of purpose.

In fact, this is true. Imperative conducted a study showing that 41% of employees have similar goals to the company, although on average in the US IT industry this figure does not exceed 21%. LinkedIn has accomplished this in several ways.
According to the Imperative study:
  • 54% of motivated employees have been with the company for more than five years;
  • 30% more productive;
  • 69% higher number of “employee promoters” (enthusiasts who are happy to advertise their company) on the scale of the net employee support index (eNPS), which measures the degree of employee engagement and loyalty.

In The Alliance: Managing Talent in the Networked Age, my co-authors and I present “internships” as a mechanism for creating and maintaining working relationships in an era when lifelong employment is no longer mainstream. The key to a successful internship is a high degree of correspondence between the employer and the employee, and the key to a high degree of conformity is a common sense of purpose.

If a general sense of purpose exists, employees work in the company longer. Their high level of engagement leads to higher rates of loyalty and productivity.

In the days of lifelong employment, everything was predetermined, now more and more professionals are looking at positions in companies where personal growth is possible and they could have a significant impact.

Companies that understand the growing importance of the goal in the modern professional landscape are improving their ability to attract such employees, as well as the ability to interest them for a long time.

When I see thousands of employees on LinkedIn striving to create economic opportunities for every employee in the world, I become even more confident in our goals. Jeff Weiner (CEO of LinkedIn) calls this LinkedIn vision “a sense of true north”, guided by his more than ten years of experience, and helps us attract and retain the people we need.

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