“An organisation’s shared sense of purpose is its identity and ‘the golden thread’ to which its strategy should be aligned.”
According to CIPD, the difference between merely having an organisational purpose and having cultivated a shared sense of purpose, is that this higher sense of purpose is shared by all employees from across the organisation work highly motivated to deliver on goals and often stretches beyond to include external stakeholders.
Today people are looking for organizations that have a purpose broader than just making money.
“People aren’t motivated by money nowadays, but rather opportunity to shape the industry and define it; they want to add their value and make a dent in the world, and if culture isn’t a fit for the employee then they leave.”
Divya Ghatak, Chief People Officer for GoodData
A Shared Purpose helps employees see that the company’s success is their personal success. An encompassing perspective build on a common foundation.
Rather than viewing profit as the primary goal of an organization, progressive leaders see profit as a byproduct of success.
A sense of purpose leads employees to feel motivated and committed to the organization.
The CIPD’s Employee Outlook survey asked 3,000 UK employees whether they experienced a strong sense of shared purpose in their organisations. 47% either strongly agree or agree that they experience a strong sense of shared purpose at work.
Shared purpose has been found to be closely linked to employee engagement, which has been positively associated with organisational performance.
A shared sense of purpose is an integrating force that enables people to work collaboratively to achieve the organisation’s goals. This sense can be expressed through the articulation and application of shared values and principles – which in turn further heightens the shared sense of purpose.
High levels of team engagement
High-performing organisations have a strong sense of shared purpose.
A strong sense of shared purpose leads to high levels of employee engagement.
Employees in organisations with a strong sense of shared purpose find their work to be absorbing and meaningful and they are willing to expend discretionary effort. They are also more satisfied with their pay and want to stay with the organisation.
The shared sense of purpose enables distributed team leadership. Leaders that instil a strong sense of shared purpose in their teams facilitate cross-functional collaboration, and has been shown to increase engagement and team performance.
According to CIPD, a team charter process, in which the team collectively agrees a common purpose, goals, priorities, roles and norms, can underpin a shared sense of purpose at the team level.
How can we can foster shared purpose in a way that our employees and customers can work on together?
As a company, it’s important to think about why you are in the business you’re in.
3M, Nestlé, and other innovation- and service-centric companies are decentralized and use shared service centers and information centers to help teams maintain productivity and alignment with overall business strategy
Fostering a strong sense of shared is important; however, the real value comes in making sure it is used consistently, as is something that needs to be continually reviewed alongside changing operational priorities.
One way of doing this is to develop the awareness and capabilities of line managers so they are more equipped to help staff and volunteers develop a better sense of connection.
In order to engage the organization in working toward a shared purpose, leaders will need to understand the motivational drivers; namely that people are driven by task accomplishment, influence, or relationship needs.
A lot of life happens outside of the workplace, that can influence on how people perform in the workplace.
Understanding what motivates employees in their lives outside of the workplace offers leaders a better perspective.
Link the sense of shared purpose in employees’ lives
It is important to the organisation to provide a healthy environment for employees to reflect their higher purpose.
Some years back, Danone pioneered and launched the Active Health Programme – an award-winning programme that puts employees’ work, life, health and food at the center of how they do business, including medical check-ups and access to an employee assistance programme for personal issues, and stress and life management training sessions.
Introduce New era of workplace enablers
Work practices & organisational content to support people do their jobs and enable career progression
- Transparency & Distributed decision making
- People’s objectives are visible across the organization.
- Teams set their own goals and objectives
- Cooperation & collaboration innovation capabilities
- Sync and share capability.
- Locating expertise from across the organization.
- Co-creating and sharing documents
Shared Purpose can help in:
- Strengthening culture through a unified sense of purpose
- Building a caring, fair and honest workplace, there must first be trust.
- Nurturing and supportive environment, promotes engagement, autonomy, a feeling of ownership, involvement, and self-management
- Fostering an inclusive culture of openness where information flows in all directions
- Introducing transparency and certainty to improve decision-making with clarity about “big picture”
- Enhancing cross-functional relationships through a shared understanding of priorities
- Enabling learning and personal growth contribute to self-esteem and personal achievement
Make sure that Shared purpose:
- Is a natural expression of who we are and what we stand for, how we contribute to the world
- connects how we make money, how we share our vested interests in a noble way
- inspires moments of optimism and happiness
- creates value and makes a difference
Ask the questions
Are people engaged?
Do they bring passion, creativity and commitment to their work?
Are they informed on the culture and strategy of the company?
Are they aware of the company’s desired future state?
Are they clear on their job and goals?
Are decisions communicated?
What more do the employees need to know?
Do employees get the information they need to be effective in their work?
Does information flow top/down, bottom/up and laterally?
What practices exist for sharing information?
Are employees up-to-date on what’s happening with others in theorganization?
Do they collaborate well?
Would they be willing to help a greater goal, and what do they need to believe to do so?
Is progress shared?
Define the desired future state, the mental picture of what the organization wants to achieve over time.
Provide guidance and inspiration as to what the organization is focused on achieving.
Make sure all employees understand that their daily work contributes towards accomplishing the desired future state.
In this way, you create an environment where people want to stay and grow their careers.
And finally 2 questions:
Is it for me? For the team? Or the organisation as a whole?
Is it for the past, the present or the future?