Organizations spend considerable amount of resources on corporate value and mission statement. But even the most inspiring of these — from Volvo’s commitment to Safety to Facebook’s desire to Connect People, tend to fade into background during the daily bustle of a work day. Leaders can’t rely on organizational mission statements to inspire employees and hence have to help their people find inner purpose.
What employees really need to feel engaged in and satisfied by their jobs is an inner sense of purpose – as Deloitte found in a 2016 study. People feel loyal to companies that support their career and life ambitions — in other words, things that are meaningful to them. No matter one’s level, industry, or career, we all need to find a personal sense of meaning in what we do.
Leaders can foster this inner sense of purpose — what matters right now in each individual’s life and career — with simple conversations. One technique is action identification theory, which posits that there are many levels of description for any action.
Regular check-ins that use five areas of inquiry are another way to help employees explore and call out their inner purpose. For this, leaders can ask employees the following questions:
- What are you good at doing? Which work activities require less effort? What do you take on because you believe you’re the best person to do it? What have you gotten noticed for throughout your career? The idea here is to help people identify their strengths and open-up possibilities from there on.
- What do you enjoy? In a typical workweek, what do you look forward to doing? What do you see on your calendar that energizes you? If you could design your job with no restrictions, how would you spend your time? These questions will help people find or rediscover what they love about work.
- What feels most useful? Which work outcomes make you most proud? Which of your tasks are most critical to the team or organization? What are the highest priorities for your life and how does your work fit in? This line of inquiry will highlight the inherent value of certain work.
- What creates a sense of forward momentum? What are you learning that you’ll use in the future? What do you envision for yourself next? How’s your work today getting you closer to what you want for yourself? The idea here is to show how today’s work helps them advance toward future goals.
- How do you relate to others? Which working partnerships are best for you? What would an office of your favorite people look like? How does your work enhance your family and social connections? These questions encourage people to think about and foster relationships that make work more meaningful.
The team at Actuate Business Consulting, a knowledge based management consulting firm in India, believes, it’s not easy to guide others towards a purpose, but these strategies can help employees find their inner purpose making them more productive with higher engagement and satisfaction at work.