Having a purpose provides context for all of one’s efforts, and it’s a chief criterion for “flow”—the energy state that occurs when one’s mind, body and entire being are committed to the task at hand. Flow turns mundane work into completely absorbing experiences, allowing us to push the limits of skills and talents.
Flow and commitment also create healthier, happier employees, while driving innovative thinking. To tap into full engagement, leaders must clearly identify and articulate what truly matters to the company:
· Why are we in business?
· What difference do we want to make in the world?
· What’s our most important purpose?
On some level, everyone wants to live a purposeful life, yet we are distracted by societal pressures to achieve wealth and prestige. There are indications, however, that this is changing. Just as GNP fails to reflect the well-being and satisfaction of a country’s citizens, a person’s net worth actually has little to do with personal fulfillment.
It is difficult to impossible to truly inspire the creators of customer happiness — the employees — with the ethic of profit maximization…It is my experience that employees can get very excited and inspired by a business that has an important business purpose. ~ John Mackey, CEO of Whole Foods Market
Leadership starts on a personal level and permeates one’s function in a company, community and society. While countless books address the importance of finding personal purpose, how does it play out within an organizational context? How do you link your personal purpose and values to those of your company?
The thinking around purpose is energized when centered in a Christian context. As believers we are certain there is an eternal meaning in all we do, which of course includes our work. Remember the classic Your Work Matters to God. When we allow ourselves to see our work with and eternal perspective the possibilities are endless.
It may seem that parts of your job are mundane and insignificant. Perhaps your organization hasn't articulated their purpose, vision and values clearly enough. Perhaps you have yet to articulate your own. I see this happen frequently in the organizations where I'm called on to contribute workshops or coaching (coach4ldrs.com)
What's been your experience? I'd love to hear from you, leave a comment.
In a company without purpose, people have only a vague idea of what they’re supposed to do. There’s always activity and busyness, but it’s often frenetic, disorganized and focused solely on short-term goals. There’s a lack of direction and commitment to purpose (Why Are You Here blog)
Top executives erroneously look to the competition when making decisions, rather than making up their own minds about what really matters. This lack of clarity leads to poor business decisions and failed product launches. Employees who work without purpose experience the consequences.
“Across organizations, nearly every survey suggests that the vast majority of employees don’t feel fully engaged at work, valued for their contributions, or freed and trusted to do what they do best,” reports Tony Schwartz in a recent HBR.org blog post. “Instead, they feel weighed down by multiple demands and distractions, and they often don’t derive much meaning or satisfaction from their work. That’s a tragedy for millions of people and a huge lost opportunity for organizations.”
Lack of Full Engagement
Put simply, satisfied and engaged employees perform better. In a Towers Watson study of roughly 90,000 employees across 18 countries, companies with the most engaged employees reported a 19% increase in operating income and 28% growth in earnings per share. Companies whose employees had the lowest level of engagement had a 32% decline in operating income and an 11% drop in earnings.
People enjoy being engaged in meaningful work (Meaning Vs Happiness – Fast Company) Humans, by nature, are a passionate species, and most of us seek out stimulating experiences. Companies that recognize this and actively cultivate and communicate a worthwhile corporate purpose become employers of choice.
A major Gallup Organization research study identified 12 critical elements for creating highly engaged employees. About half deal with employees’ sense of belonging. One of the key criteria is captured in the following statement: “The mission or purpose of my company makes me feel my job is important.” (TED Talk – Simon Sinek “Start With Why) After basic needs are fulfilled, an employee searches for meaning in a job. People seek a higher purpose, something in which to believe. If, in your role as a leader, you aren’t articulating what you care about and how you plan to make a difference, then you probably aren’t inspiring full engagement. This holds true for you as a leader as well. Anchoring your WHY for you as the leader will ignite your passion.
In the work I do (Coach4ldrs.com) this is a major concern for people: they either aren't sure what it is that their own true purpose is, or they are not sure what their organization's is. Coaching is designed to help people find the connection between job requirements and fulfillment and meaning. I call this your DECLARATION. What are you passionate about that will motivate you to change for your best? This is a process that creates great momentum in life and work.
If you aren't clear, ask your coach for help in finding answers. And if you need help in finding the right coach, let me know.