One of the most fulfilling aspects of my career is connecting and collaborating with leaders across industries. We evaluate challenges and wins and how to develop ourselves to draw out the best in our teams.

Recent conversations have brought to light a common question on our minds: With the rapidly changing marketplace and workforce demands, how can we continuously evolve and foster a connection to purpose within ourselves, throughout the organization, and on our teams?

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"Tomorrow, before asking anyone to put out a fire or buy your product or contribute to your favorite charity, why not pause and close your eyes and try to think the whole thing through from another person’s point of view? Ask yourself: “why should he or she want to do it” – Dale Carnegie

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Harvard research on ‘The Business Case for Purpose’ does, indeed, make the case for this question. As it turns out, the data indicates purpose-driven organizations fare better in a disruptive business climate by more easily weathering organizational transformations.

So, what is purpose? The most basic definition is the why. Why is someone’s role meaningful? Why do their tasks and projects really matter? Basically, what is the point?

People spend approximately 90,000 hours on the job in their lifetimes. So, it is no wonder that nine in 10 workers would take a pay cut if it meant having the opportunity to participate in more purposeful work (Rand Corp). Not only will they take a pay cut, but our research shows they are far more likely to stay.

Human beings are hardwired for seeking purpose and aiming to offer a great employee experience can easily only scratch the surface and fall short of developing a truly purpose-driven environment driven by engaged teams. Employee engagement involves an emotional element, and this is where purpose comes in:

Employee engagement is about feeling – feeling valued, confident, connected and empowered.

Purpose is the anchor of employee engagement. On our team, this is where we start:

  1. Our values and purpose as a business are the priority when we recruit talent. We seek alignment in key motivators based on values. We assess this fit above all else. If the skills and talent are there and the purpose alignment is lacking, our culture could be damaged, and we will likely not retain the hire.
  2. When someone joins our team (family), onboarding is intentionally designed to explore the ‘why’ behind what we do as a company and how the role supports this purpose. As we work through their key performance indicators together, we discuss the purpose of each task and function at each step.

  3. We define a winning culture as fostering connection, confidence, and courage on our team. This requires that we slow down, be present and take a deeper approach to one-on-ones. We work to ask more questions (and the right questions) and let others do a great deal of the talking while we listen. This allows us to understand their drivers and motivators and get a real pulse on what projects are exciting and/or draining.

  4. We throw down strategic challenges right away to expand their comfort zones and ultimately, show them what they are capable of. We talk through hesitations, evaluate outcomes, and celebrate the wins. For every team member, this looks different.

  5. We express gratitude frequently and authentically and share the glory.

  6. We admit our mistakes quickly and ask for coaching and feedback from the team. We are human and can’t foster a true connection without allowing ourselves to be.

Regardless of the tangible benefits we offer applicants and existing team members, their loyalty to us and level of performance comes from within. When this internal drive and connection is activated, we realize new levels of innovation, efficiency, and fulfillment personally and professionally.

Before we talk and expect action from our team, we must evaluate ourselves and walk the walk. Without consistency, we will not earn the credibility to truly influence others, which we believe is winning their hearts and minds…and this requires purpose.

Bethany Berkeley is the CEO and co-owner of Dale Carnegie of North Dakota and Minnesota.