Purpose when not in person

October 1, 2020

Much has been written about the importance of the purpose driven organisation, and it could be argued that there’s never been a more important time for purpose to be at the forefront if people engagement is to be maintained. As teams continue to work remotely, the risk grows of strong connections and living values dwindling.

A leadership test of the time then becomes how to embed and continue purpose-driven behaviours when a firm and its people are operating at a distance.

Purpose is experienced at the individual level but there are a number of steps that leaders can take to connect and promote authentic purpose throughout a firm. Start by reviewing and perhaps reimagining how increased attention to purpose could be directed to existing people-related systems and processes.

  • First, ask if there are better ways to support people – this may mean asking people directly about how they are tracking and if the reasons they show up to work each day are still relevant and alive for them, despite the challenges imposed by the pandemic. It’s important to understand what’s working well and what’s not.
  • For those firms still recruiting, check if the right purpose-themed messages and energy levels are still being communicated throughout the interview process.
  • Re-assess onboarding systems and processes, both at the firm and team level. Review if leaders have adapted and found new ways to ensure newcomers are well integrated into teams and if they are helping them to become productive quickly. Make sure team leaders are helping these new recruits connect to the firm’s purpose and values. Share the good ideas and communicate best-practices.
  • Consider if there is a general sense of pride amongst leaders, fuelled by how well they and their teams have adapted to the new working environment. And then reflect on and communicate how that feeds into the firm’s purpose story.
  • Highlighting the benefits of purposeful work during during performance management discussions reinforces positive messages. Activating purpose when giving constructive feedback is a helpful way to frame difficult messages.  
  • Coaching conversations that link purpose to an individual’s and firm’s values can be a powerful tool to help increase job satisfaction.

Purpose can be the foundation stone for building energy, direction and resilience, all of which are in great need at the moment. Purpose is often found in the small moments so it’s worth reminding remote leaders to reflect on how the firm’s purpose is still relevant to them and their teams, and how they can build purpose-driven messages into their everyday interactions.

We would be delighted to hear your thoughts and continue the dialogue with you. We hope you’ve found this Insight to be constructive and thought-provoking. We share comments and ideas of a general nature, with the aim of helping firms contend with current challenges. As such, the content above is unlikely to be complete and comprehensive enough for a firm to re-imagine the future. Rather, it may be a beginning or a conversation starter, as each firm is different and the challenges each face are unique. If you would like to continue the conversation, then please connect with us for a confidential conversation at click here.

Post Author

Jennifer Milford