Why purpose is the engine of performance

Purpose was a hot topic at last week’s annual conference from the Institute of Internal Communication and today I have news of a brand new book to help you learn more about it.

Christine Crofts, Global Employee Engagement Director at Diageo reiterated the value of having a strong sense of purpose at #IoICLive18.

She said: “The role of internal communicators in creating purpose-driven organisations is to help articulate the organisation’s purpose; communicate it; help leaders be more inspiring communicators; and align purposeful messages internally and externally.”

The Purpose Revolution-How Leaders Create Engagement and Competitive Advantage in an Age of Social Good is hot off the press.

According to the book, purpose is the belief that our work serves to make a difference in the world in a way that is meaningful to us.

Purpose is the part of work that is not simply about salary, but a sense that our work has meaning and connects us to something bigger than ourselves.

I’m going to hand you over to the authors, John Izzo, Ph.D. and Jeff Vanderwielen, Ph.D who’ve written for the All Things IC blog to tell us more…

Every employee has a purpose

You may have noticed a quiet revolution has been brewing across the globe. It cuts across geography, generation and sector, and changes what employees expect from their jobs.

What’s different? Employees want a meaningful job where they can make a difference not just get a paycheck.

In our new book The Purpose Revolution-How Leaders Create Engagement and Competitive Advantage in an Age of Social Good we explain how companies can activate employees’ purpose so they are more excited and engaged in their work and empowered to live their purpose everyday.

Every employee has a purpose.

It is the reason they get up in the morning and come to work, and it is more than simply about compensation and status. We all desire meaning and that part of doing good in our lives is called our purpose.

In John’s first career, he became a Presbyterian Minister out of a desire to serve society and have his personal values impact others in a positive way. Today, John and Jeff both serve others in a different way – they teach organisations and individuals to develop relationships that strengthen their inner commitment to doing what’s right.

In John’s work with the Advisory Board of Sustainable Brands, the world’s leading community of purpose driven companies, he is both amazed and inspired by great corporate leaders who have gotten it right.

The engine of performance

Purpose is the engine of performance, but few leaders tap into it.

Research shows that 60% of employees want their work to have purpose and 86% of employees want to “believe it’s important that their own employer is responsible to society and the environment, with over half (55%) feeling it is very important,” so we know that leaders need to pay attention and start talking with their people about what their work really means.

Employees who work from purpose perform better on almost every metric we care about as leaders – including productivity, engagement, and service (even calling in sick less often).

As leaders we can unleash the power of purpose by doing three simple things:

  1. Ask people why they come to work besides money – What gets them up in the morning and what makes for a day when they feel they made a difference?
  2. Focus our communication on the purpose of jobs, not just the function – How does each role matter to customers, colleagues and the organisation?
  3. Recognise people for living their purpose. Once we know their purpose, focus our appreciation on seeing them “live their purpose.”

Once you start the dialogue, you begin to recognise each individual’s purpose, see the value of each person’s role in the organisation and truly appreciate them for doing their work and living their purpose.

In the following video, John tells the story of one employee named Max who impacted many lives during his long career, but how a leader only found out about Max’s purpose at his retirement party.

Let’s not wait until our good employees are gone before we talk to them about their purpose.

John Izzo is co-author of The Purpose Revolution and president of Izzo Associates.

He has spoken to over one million people and advised over 500 companies, including IBM, Qantas, the Mayo Clinic, Verizon, RBC, TELUS, Walmart, DuPont, Humana, Microsoft, and IBM. He is the author or coauthor of six books, including Awakening Corporate Soul.

You can find him on Twitter @drjohnizzo

Jeff VanderwielenJeff Vanderwielen is co-author of The Purpose Revolution and vice president of consulting at Izzo Associates.

He’s a former senior change consultant at Ernst & Young with 20-plus years of experience helping organisations manage large-scale change and articulate a compelling purpose – their core good – as the organising centre for their vision, strategy, and culture.

Thank you John and Jeff.

What work are you doing around purpose? If you have a story to share, do get in touch and let me know.


Post author: John Izzo and Jeff Vanderwielen.

First published on the All Things IC blog 16 May 2018.

Disclosure: The book URL is linked to my Amazon Associates account. 

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