Shared purpose Mindset: Expectations, ambitions and ways of thinking and work that determine how people and organisations perform.


New expectations. Shared purpose mindset.

Purpose-oriented workers are dramatically changing our workforce. Employees no longer want a 9-5 job, they want to help others and have an impact.

The employee-for-life expectation is no longer realistic

This is what LinkedIn cofounder Reid Hoffman identifies as a “new compact” in which both employee and employer acknowledge the expected impermanence of their relationship, while still building trust and shared value.

At LinkedIn, Hoffman has set the initial employee compact at a four-year “tour of duty,” with an in-depth, future-focused discussion at two year end. After four years, employees can seek new opportunities within the company, or outside the company.

Every employee, regardless of role wants to be part of a winning team, but many employees become disconnected and disengaged, unaware of their potential to help drive results.

According to Elizabeth Davis, Founding Partner, Carol Cone ON PURPOSE, organisations that unite around shared purpose, will be the winners and future leaders of tomorrow.

Purpose is multidimensional impacting the way the workplace is organizing to inspire their employees, the identification and empowerment of purpose-oriented workers, and the integration of purpose into both brands and the employer brand.

According to Imperative’s Workforce Purpose Index, in partnership with New York University,  define a purpose-oriented worker as one with a psychological predisposition to see work as primarily about purpose – personal fulfillment and helping other people.


This is especially valid for millennials, who want to learn, be mentored and spend their time in organizations that have greater vision and a greater purpose:

  • 60% of millennials believe that a sense of purpose is part of the reason they chose to work at their current employer
  • 90% want to use their skills to create positive social impact
  • 87% millennials believe that the success of a business should be measured in terms of more than just financial performance
  • In the Shapers Annual Survey, six in ten millennials indicated that an opportunity to “make a difference in society, my city, or my country” is the top factor they look for in a job.


The results indicate that purpose-orientation increased across generation groups, with baby boomers leading the way. This could potentially be connected to broader developmental psychology theories.

Erik Erikson, a German psychoanalyst, identified an eight-stage theory of development and identity. A shift in identity changes between the ages of 18-35 and 35-65. Erickson theorized that young adults (millennials) are focused on building relationships. When they reach middle age, there’s a shift to associate identity with what one is contributing to society.


The power is shifting: Employee expectations change fast

The current performance management cycle  and career development conversations at many organizations is not working.

Research reveals that 72% of men and 60% of women expect their company to take an active stake in their career development.

Overall, they expect more – career opportunities, more reward and appreciation, benefits and more work-life balance.

And if you don’t provide it, employees leave to find it elsewhere.

There is a fundamental change in the way to manage your employees and the relationship with them.

Peter Cappelli – Wharton management professor Peter Cappelli, and director of Wharton’s Center for Human Resources


Cappelli cites studies showing that 91% of companies worldwide have performance appraisals.

A good performance review gives employees constructive, unbiased feedback on their work. A bad one demonstrates supervisor bias and undermines employee confidence and motivation.

David Insler, a senior vice president at New York-based Sibson Consulting, estimates that only about 35% to 40% of companies do performance reviews well.

Recently, Adobe, Kelly Services, GE, Deloitte and PwC have ended annual performance reviews.

“It’s a big change, the extent to which it seems to be happening, and it’s happening broadly,” says Wharton management professor Peter Cappelli, and director of Wharton’s Center for Human Resources, who has researched the usefulness and accuracy of performance reviews. What’s happening now is nothing less than a revolution in performance management systems, he notes.

Anna Tavis, a clinical associate professor in leadership and human capital management at New York University confirms that annual performance reviews are defunct.

For example, because more and more companies are heavily project-oriented, reviews are often done when projects are completed or at set points along the way.

Millennials (those born between the late 1970s and early 1990s) are accustomed to constant and instant feedback — from parents, text messaging friends or social media sites. They expect the same from their employers. As Dan Pink, a workplace expert and author, noted in a recent article in The Telegraph titled “Think Tank: Fix the Workplace, Not the Workers,” millennials have “lived [their] whole lives on a landscape lush with feedback.” Yet when they enter the workforce, they find themselves “in a veritable feedback desert…. It’s hard to get better at something if you receive feedback on your performance just once a year.”

“The idea of getting feedback to help you improve is natural. Millennials are clear on what they want their career to be about. They don’t expect to be in one company forever, but rather to develop a reputation and skill set that will carry them from job to job and help them establish their personal brand,” says Daniel Debow is co-CEO of Rypple.

Frequency is clearly one of the issues, says Peter Cappelli,  with reviews occuring annually. “If you wait a year to tell employees how they are doing, they are almost always surprised and unhappy if the results are not positive. Humans are hard-wired to focus on the negative,” Cappelli notes. “So ‘balanced’ feedback always leaves us concentrating on the bad parts” of the reviews.

The pressures of the work environment will require people to collaborate and form strong working bonds.

Today, technology and connectivity has increased our ability to self-organize, and collaborate across business functions as a network embracing agile methods that encourage experimentation and fuel rapid learning.

According to Ilie Ghiciuc, even more so than today, people will need to learn how to collaborate. The future workers of Generation Z are predicted to have about 17 jobs across 5 different disciplines by the time they retire. These changes will be determined by changing demographics, later retirement age, more female participation in the workforce, and a greater demand to do more with less.

Related to collaboration is the skill of empathy; the ability to put yourself in another person’s shoes.

As machines continue to take a larger role in business, empathy will turn into a necessary skill. Empathy helps people listen to each other and understand various ideas from different perspectives. It also adds to the ability of people to form tight bonds and rely on each other with things get difficult, and being able to adjust to all the changes that impact the business environment.

Forming these types of teams means that you will need to adopt a style of collaborative leadership, focusing on connection, creation, and collaboration.

Keeping employees engaged will require a shift from the idea that goal setting, performance management, providing feedback, and career planning is an annual event to a mindset that recognizes the high impact of everyday practice.

The everyday practice, mentoring and coaching of what we need to improve, to solve, soon becomes natural, an embedded best practice habit.

Keep a dialogue open so that you can each contribute your ideas for the future, and suddenly work becomes meaningful.

That includes being open about money talk. Research shows that being underpaid is one of the main causes of respondents’ unhappiness at work. Of course, you may not be in a position to offer incentives at the moment: but being honest, setting goals, and expressing your appreciation can go a long way.

You’ll also need to rely less on technology to solve your company’s problems and rely more on the respect, honesty, and humility of people and teams. This style will not only improve the culture of learning but it will improve the effectiveness and productivity of teams as well.

What drives the Mindset Shift

With technological change, and accelerating connectivity, the future is becoming increasingly difficult to predict.

Russ Ackoff from Wharton Graduate School of Business taught us that the first step in systems thinking is to answer the question, “What is the purpose of the system you want to build?”

We see many companies resort to cost cutting in an attempt to hang on to their old business models. But no matter how much an organization tries to resolve its perceived problems by cost cutting, it makes no real impact. The competition is still moving ahead and the customer experience is still poor.

Cost cutting may have sufficed in the past, when efficiency and repeating the mass model seemed to be universal business goals.

But in many industries conditions are more complex, dynamic and unpredictable.


With the Shared purpose Mindset shift organizations can shape a future founded on collaborative engagement and grow in times of change and uncertainty creating high performance cultures and responsive organizations in the process.

It all boils down to relationships and developing people and encouraging them to perform better.

Shared purpose is about initiating development and performance management conversations focused on continuous coaching and feedback for employees’ growth and move them toward their next career goal.

It’s about pushing the limits to spot the next big thing that will transform the organisation.


Shared Purpose develops new mental circuits, gives rise to a new pattern of thinking and acting.

A mindset to excel.

And you are conscious of it.

After all, mindset is the basis of organisational culture.

And leading and managing people by Shared purpose is to achieve things that in our conscious mind we doubt we can achieve, uncertain of how to get there.

Things that we perceive beyond the horizon, beyond what we can see.

You can find the full Global Shaper survey results here, and the press release mentioning the salary vs. purpose preferences here.