Thursday, January 13, 2011

Do your people have Purpose?

I believe that when we get down to the core of what makes our people happy, is that we give them purpose. Most people go through their lives looking and seeking that which gives them purpose. How can we, as leaders, ensure that our people have purpose?

First we must recognize that everyone has a role to play. Whether it be the custodian, mail room staff, administrative assistant or IT department. Everyone has to know their part and the importance of what they do. How it adds value and purpose to the overall vision of our company.  I've learned many times in my career just how valuable someone is when they are unexpectedly gone or leave. Everyone is scrabbling and asking, "Who normally does this?"

This is when we really value someone, is when they are gone. This is when we realize that they did play a role in making our department or company go. Don't wait until then to decide to acknowledge their purpose. Do it today. Here's some of the ways we can instill a sense of purpose in our people:
  • Tell them: Yes, it's that simple, tell them of the value they bring to the department or company. You can do this during performance reviews or anytime really. Tell them specifically what they bring to the table and why that is valuable to the work process.
  • Know your people: If your a regular reader of this blog you know that I have touched on this many times before. I'll say it once again, get to know your people and what motivates them to perform. Some want to be challenged, some coached, some want to be work on projects independently. Point is, everyone is different. Get to know them.  
  • Listen: Another really simple thing to do, yet we tend to want to know what they want fixed. Listen to what they tell you, their frustrations, their victories and even what is blocking them from being more productive.
  • Show them how to progress and the benefits not only to them, but the company. When you lay out to people how they can grow and progress in their work, they now have a path to follow. A lot of times, people haven't thought of all of the different ways they can grow and improve. Giving them a "road map" is an invaluable tool for them to use.
After all is said and done, people want to know that they have a purpose and their work is fulfilling a real need. Get to know your people, talk to them, most importantly listen to them. You might be surprised at what they will tell you.

What are some other ways you can instill a sense of purpose in your people?

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