There’s a lot of discussion these days about organisations having a common sense of purpose for employees, partners, clients and the communities we serve, creating a “North Star” that creates a culture of personal and emotional investment. When people start saying “what we do really matters, and this is why,” you are on the right road.

You may have heard the story about John F Kennedy’s visit to NASA in 1962, where the janitor, with broom in hand, replied to JFK’s question “what do you do here?” with “I’m helping put a man on the moon”. That was the janitor’s ‘North Star’ – he was proud of the business he worked in and felt part of it.

A ‘North Star’ is a reference point for a business, and also for employees deciding to join your business and clients in deciding to partner with you. Importantly for Ascent, we believe having a ‘North Star’ also helps customers who are experiencing debt problems to feel comfortable in engaging with us.  

A shared sense of purpose is the glue that holds a business together. It is essential in building trust with all stakeholders, and gives our employees the sense of meaning they want from their work. Employees with a sense of purpose are more likely to be engaged with their work, resulting in higher performance and increasing job satisfaction overall. Most employees want to feel that what they do in work makes a difference.

For all these reasons, we have just refreshed our own “North Star” – our Purpose – which is “Together we support financial wellbeing.” Breaking this down a little, the word ‘together’ has been used to highlight our partnership approach with clients, colleagues and customers, ‘support’ was chosen for its positive and caring connotations, and ‘financial wellbeing’ is something that applies universally. Most obviously this relates to customers dealing with debt, but for our clients it also applies to their businesses, and for all my colleagues in Ascent, I have no doubt that we all want to achieve financial wellbeing, especially in these uncertain times. 

Our Purpose is supported by our new Vision: 

“Our aim is to be one step ahead. We will be known for always leading the way and doing the right thing.” 

“Our pioneering and agile mind-set, along with our commitment to clients and customers, will deliver extraordinary experiences.”

We are very clear at Ascent that the work we do is to benefit our three strategic pillars – Clients, Colleagues and Communities (including the customers dealing with debt who we engage with).Finding a balanced and coherent message for these three strategic pillars is very important.

As far as our clients are concerned, we want to be recognised for the excellent service we deliver and support we provide to our clients to achieve their own sense of purpose and objectives. Working in such a highly regulated sector lends itself to working to the highest standards and ensuring we treat customers fairly. In turn, this supports our clients and the orderly functioning of their businesses, which helps the smooth running of the overall UK economy.

When it comes to colleagues, we want to make Ascent a great place to work for all our people – after all, why wouldn’t any business want to do that? The success of this is down not just to leadership but to everyone in the business – we want our people to be inspired, we want them to want to be best they can be every day. We want our people to be proud that they work here. To achieve that, you need an environment that is safe, comfortable, stimulating, challenging and rewarding – and to be an organisation with a ‘North Star’ that has meaning.

In terms of serving communities,there are two aspects to this. Firstly, our immediate aim is to help customers resolve their debt issues – and while at times this can of course be a very difficult situation for them, we always try and work in a supportive way that makes make this as easy as it can possibly be under the circumstances. There is always the opportunity to contribute in a different way to our sector through either CSR activities or sponsorship.  There is also no shortage of advice and support agencies that work alongside our sector, which we regularly liaise with. 

Leadership may bring the coherency to what an organisation is all about, but the leaders don’t deliver it – all employees within an organisation do. This is why investment in defining and communicating your organisation’s ‘North Star’ , your common sense of purpose is a must if you want to really exceed on your ambitions.

For more information please see our eBrochure on this change.

Please feel free to get in touch if you would like to discuss anything with me further.

Niall Gilhooley, Chief Executive Officer, Ascent