Coherence is present to the extent that an organization’s daily actions and practices, experienced by employees, are aligned with the principles and direction set forth by its purpose. When companies are true to purpose, the daily activities of the organization will naturally provide ample evidence of the company’s alignment to purpose. This is true for ISS, the Facility services provider, where the most seemingly trivial events, such as receiving a “thank-you” from a client, is communicated throughout the entire company as a sign of coherence to purpose. This is especially relevant when making difficult decisions that put the purpose to test, as may arise when a company faces the need for layoffs or fallout related to a public relations incident. The way the company acts in these situations, and equally important, how this is perceived by its employees, is crucial to the development of purpose.Footnote 18
When a company truly lives its purpose, it becomes a “force” that elevates employee engagement. But if employees do not perceive coherence between purpose and practice, the purpose will lose credibility. Such a loss may occur due to ignorance or poor communication, especially among those employees who have limited knowledge about the general operations of the company. Hence it is important that the company “make a connection” by showing employees how their efforts benefit others.Footnote 19
Our empirical analysis shows that perceived coherence between purpose and practice is significant to effective purpose internalization. However, we must note that, from the employees’ perspective, point number 3 listed as visible commitment from leadership is identical to point number 5 perceived coherence between purpose and practice (see Table 7.1). In other words, employees identify the company’s coherence with the management’s commitment. Accordingly, both dimensions can be combined and considered jointly. This is consistent with the interconnection between internalization and implementation discussed in previous chapters.Footnote 20 Even companies that practice their purpose, such as a healthcare company that aims to “improve people’s lives,” must ensure its employees see a commitment by top management to this purpose and if this is not the case (e.g., if they think that the managers only care about money), the company will be perceived as incoherent (or hypocritical) by its employees.