Stuck to my laptop stand with two pieces of blue tack is a dog-eared strip of paper which simply
says: “What are you really here to do?”
I look at it often. Sometimes it reorients me, other times it forces me to stop what I’m doing and take a different approach. Often it’s a gentle reminder that I’m on the right track.
Is that a purpose? No. But it reminds me of my purpose.
At SenateSHJ our purpose is: Helping our clients communicate – the force that drives human
The great thing about this, much like our four values, is that it evolved through a
organisation-wide approach i.e. we were all involved in some way.
The key to purpose is what’s your role in it? How do you align your purpose with your company’s purpose and how do you make it meaningful to your daily role?
My laptop stand’s one-liner helps me align what I do with our company's purpose. And before we had a purpose it helped align my thinking around our values.
We all have different roles to play in assisting that purpose to come to life and the key is how you align your own purpose with your company’s purpose.
“Your purpose should be exciting, it should motivate you every day and it may even challenge you to venture past your comfort zone.”
You may have already decided the company’s purpose is for the executives or it's for others in the organisation.
The problem with this is threefold:
- There will be a misalignment between you and your colleagues in terms of direction and
- You won’t feel part of something larger or a higher purpose and you have a strong chance of being disengaged from your work and others around you
- Your work may lack meaning and there’s a strong chance you’ll question what you’re doing and lack energy and focus at work.
About a third of our life is spent at work, that’s an awfully long time to be unfulfilled. And if that’s the case, you may want to rethink what you’re doing and how you do it.
Research conducted in 2016 by LinkedIn in collaboration with Imperative titled: ‘2016 Global Report Purpose at Work, The Largest Global Study on the Role of Purpose in the Workforce’ found: “This correlation of satisfaction at work and purpose orientation was consistent in virtually every country and industry studied. Purpose is a motivator regardless of differences in region, culture, language, and occupation.”
How do you align your purpose with your organisation’s purpose?
- You could start by speaking with someone – a mentor, an executive, HR, your colleagues. Simple questions are often the most powerful:
- Why do we have a purpose?
- What does our purpose mean to you?
- How do you make our purpose part of what you do?
- Does it change the way you think about your work?
- How do you suggest I align what I do with our purpose?
It’s important you gain clarity on how you can best contribute to the organisation's purpose. Clarity can be the difference between drifting or hating your job to being focused, productive and energised by what you do.
- Create a link between the company purpose and your individual goals or key performance indicators (KPIs). This way you’ll provide more meaning to what you do. This should also be reflected in the metrics measuring your performance.
- Find what you value most deeply. Write them down, lay them out in front of you and then pick the values which you think most closely align with the company's purpose. Using these, write your own purpose statement as a subset of the company purpose.
Sleep on it then wordsmith it further. It should be very short. Finally run it past your mentor, HR, your boss or your colleagues and see how it resonates. Depending on their feedback you may need to refine it further, but it will be worth it in the end. You’ll end up with a true compass for the work you do.
The LinkedIn and Imperative report on purpose concluded:
“Connecting your employees and applicants to jobs that bring out their sense of purpose will only benefit your company. Employees that are more satisfied and fulfilled are higher performers, more productive, and likely to stay longer.”
I majored in Psychology at university and one of the people we studied was Viktor Frankl, an
Austrian psychiatrist who delved deeply into a school of psychotherapy. They describe a search for a life meaning as the central human motivational force.
Here is what Frankl had to say: