For organisations striving to create elite teams and an engaged workforce, the most important thing is to ensure that groups of people and individuals have a clear sense of purpose. With a strong sense of purpose – the “why”– in place, organisations will benefit in the long run through increased employee engagement and collaboration, as well as enhanced individual and organisational performance.
The importance of purpose is further highlighted when you consider the eighth item of Gallup’s Q12 Employee Engagement Survey: “the mission or purpose of my company makes me feel my job is important”.
The Deloitte 2017 Global Human Capital Trends report found that most millennials look beyond an organisation’s financial performance when deciding whether or not to work there. Only one in five respondents said they would choose to stay at a solely profit-driven company for more than five years.
Mark Twain once said: “The two most important days in your life are the day you are born and the day you find out why.” This articulation of purpose is not truly reflective of everyday life, but rather suggests we are all moving through life until fate delivers a higher calling to us.
Although this can happen, it is extremely rare. For the average employee in an unfulfilling job, searching for what gives life meaning is likely to end with frustration. When searching for professional purpose, most people have to focus as much on making their work meaningful as in taking meaning from it. In other words, purpose is a thing you build, not a thing you find.
Unfortunately, a recent study conducted by LinkedIn reported that 49% of employees would trade a portion of their salary to continue in their current role for an “added sense of purpose”. The study also revealed that these purpose-driven professionals prove to be extremely valuable talent.
The importance of purpose in a team should also not be overlooked.
Team purpose is useful when deciding whether a team should commit. When a team has a defined purpose, it can more easily decide whether it is “in” (committed) or “out” (choosing not to take on the work). If the team can agree on its purpose with its stakeholders, it provides a helpful guideline to your team and others in your company.
Team purpose can also provide role clarity. Without a team purpose, it is more likely that a team will perform work without taking on the formal responsibility for it. In other words, the team has not formally committed but is still doing the work. Team purpose gives a team’s stakeholders a clear definition of the role of the team which, in turn, drives the workload. Team purpose therefore tells your team what their priorities are and allows them to remain accountable to their commitments. When you commit to your team, you are more likely to put more effort into completing the work, because you will be taking responsibility for the outcome.
Betts, S. (2017). How to build a purpose-driven team. Retrieved from https://www.forbes.com/sites/forbestechcouncil/2017/11/29/how-to-build-a-purpose-driven-it-team/#276a4feb6f51
Coleman, J. (2017). You don’t find your purpose — You build it. Retrieved from https://hbr.org/2017/10/you-dont-find-your-purpose-you-build-it
Craig, N., &Snook, S.A. (2017). From purpose to impact. Retrieved from https://hbr.org/2014/05/from-purpose-to-impact
Deloitte University Press. (2017). Rewriting the rules for the digital age: 2017 Deloitte Global Human Capital Trends. Retrieved from https://www2.deloitte.com/content/dam/Deloitte/global/Documents/About-Deloitte/central-europe/ce-global-human-capital-trends.pdf