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Purpose: the reason for which something exists or is done, made and used; to set as an aim, intention, or goal.

Purpose: Why are we all here?

Purpose gives us a reason for what we do, it gives us meaning and makes clear what we are aiming for. Do you remember as child asking WHY? Why is the sky blue? Why is the grass green?  As adults we still fundamentally have the need to understand why something exists and why it is the way it is.

If you asked your people what your organisation, department or team purpose is, what would they say?  Would they all say the same thing?

Shared purpose

Whether you head the organisation, lead a department or a team, having a shared purpose ensures everyone is pulling in the same direction.  The easiest and best way to ensure you have a shared purpose is to get your team involved.  If individuals are part of defining, discussing and shaping their purpose, they are much more likely to understand how they add value and in turn are valued.

Practically, a way to do this (and something I’ve used many times) is to use the OGSM model: OBJECTIVE, GOALS, STRATEGY & MEASURES.  Your OBJECTIVE is your purpose, setting out your aim and answering WHY your department or team exists.  GOALS break down your objective, you should have a maximum of five, tempting as it is to list everything! Test what you have now, do they fit with your purpose? Your STRATEGY should lay out the big items which are needed to be successful, for example do you need to define a common process to deliver on your goals.  Finally set your tangible MEASURES, without these how do you know if you have been successful or are even heading in the right direction?

A shared purpose also means gaining agreement from your leaders and stakeholders.  Make sure your team also delivers on the wider business goals.

Give meaning

When assigning and agreeing on who will take responsibility for a goal or task, focus on individual strengths, interest and development.  Don’t be afraid to mix things up, give individuals a chance to shine and develop new skills.  Keep talking, make sure you have regular progress meetings and don’t shy away from holding your team to account and encourage them to do the same.  After all, everyone is in this together.  By giving everyone actions which deliver on the purpose creates meaning in everyone’s role.

Create the right environment

By creating and following a clear plan means you can be confident your team knows, understands, and is working on the right activities. This allows you to focus, keep track and revise tasks and activities when needed.

There will always be day to day tasks that come up and need to be done, but these can potentially distract from the bigger picture.  Being clear and having agreement on your aim allows you and you team to say NO.  Scary right? Of course, organisations evolve and change but it you have gained commitment and agreement from all stakeholders you should be able to be confident in saying no to requests and projects that are not part of your purpose, and so should your team.  By making sure your team know WHY they exist and WHAT they need to achieve enables you to give some freedom on HOW they do this.  Be supportive to you team and ensure they support each other.  By creating the right environment, you can empower your team and be confident they will deliver on the shared purpose.

Everyone essentially wants to be part of something, to be listened to, to understand and be understood and know that they, and what they do, are valued.

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