All of us are in search of a clear and driving purpose for our lives; we want to contribute to something bigger than ourselves. The world of work offers a great opportunity for people to connect with a purpose. The reality is that people care less about working for a company and much more about working for a compelling cause. Without a purpose, our teams are just putting in time. Their minds might be engaged, but their hearts will not be.
A team without a purpose is a team without passion. They might achieve short-term results, but they won’t have the heart to go the distance. Take a close look at what your team is doing day in and day out. You might find that their hearts are much bigger than their jobs. Get team members inspired about a cause, and their hearts will follow. A purpose is a team’s bridge to a brighter tomorrow … and you have to build it.
A compelling purpose is not a project goal, financial target or strategic plan. Your employees won’t get emotionally charged about a “10% net profit,” a “20% return on investment” or a “30% increase in market share.” A compelling purpose is a reason to be excited about getting up and going to work every day.
A purpose can come in all varieties — perhaps it is to help others, to make the world a better place, to innovate or to win. For example, Disney’s purpose is “to make dreams come true.” Coke worked diligently to develop its purpose: to put a Coke within reach of every person on Earth. Pepsi’s purpose is to “beat Coke!”
Your organization’s real purpose may not be apparent at first glance. I worked with a company that distributes building products to homebuilders. At first glance they didn’t seem to have a very compelling purpose. After taking a deeper look with them, it revealed that they “help make the American dream a reality.” Now, that’s a cause worth working for!
Don’t wait for your organization to communicate a purpose that your team can latch onto. Take the initiative now to engage the hearts of your team so they will develop a passion for their work. Be bold. Step back and look at the big picture. Think of how your team improves conditions for others. Your purpose should answer the question, “What difference are we making?” It should stir the emotions.
For example, a customer call center may have a purpose to brighten the day of each and every caller. An information technology department’s cause could be to improve personal productivity. For a purchasing department, it might be to ensure that all company products are made with the best raw materials available.
To maximize your team’s passion, fully engage their hearts by asking them how their jobs relate to your team’s purpose. Here are five questions to get you started:
- How does our purpose make you feel? (If you hear responses like proud, important, connected, helpful or like a winner, then you’re on the right track.)
- Does our purpose make you look at your job differently?
- Do our roles, procedures, resources, skills and priorities support our ability to achieve our purpose?
- What can you change or do differently to better support our purpose?
- What can I change or do differently to better support our purpose?
Give your team a compelling purpose, and you fill their hearts with passion. Engaged hearts will ignite passionate performance.