Leading with Purpose: Empower
In our past blog, we explored the first pillar of Kumanu’s Purposeful Leader Experience, Model. Here, we move on to the next step — Empower. There are countless benefits to having a purposeful workforce from higher engagement and greater job satisfaction to improved retention. So, how can you empower employees to find their purpose so they (and you) can reap all of these benefits?
What Does It Mean to Empower Your Team with Purpose?
Empowering purpose means allowing and encouraging your employees to identify their own purpose and values. It also means giving them the support, both personally and professionally, to be able to live their purpose at work and at home. Simply telling employees that they need to have a purpose does not work; as a Purposeful Leader, you must empower and inspire them to seek their purpose for themselves.
The Six Purpose Typologies at Work
To empower purpose, it helps to identify what motivates each employee. We analyzed over 19,000 employee work purpose statements using machine learning techniques, and identified six major typologies employees may fall into. Be sure to employ different tactics for each group.
The top work purpose is Team Purpose — people align more with their immediate work “family” (their team) than with the company as a whole. In fact research shows that working on a strong team can immunize people from the effects of a toxic company culture, but NOT vice versa — people leave when their team culture is poor (and stay when the company culture is poor, but their local team culture is strong). Team activities can open lines of clear communication for these types of team members, and provide them with a fulfilling mission to help align their team’s success with the organization’s.
Identifying a purpose is easier for Advancers because they already have a passion or aspirational career goal they are moving towards. Yet, Advancers may have trouble connecting this personal goal with the organization’s purpose and values if there’s no clear link. Try to frame or contextualize the organization’s values from their vantage point, and reinforce that their team’s success is a platform to highlight their skills.
If you’re someone who focuses on personal excellence and growth at work, you probably fall into this typology. It’s also possible that you may find repeating tasks that you’ve already mastered a little challenging. Indeed, keeping Accomplishers feeling fulfilled while accomplishing minor tasks can be difficult, so try and provide them reasons why simple tasks connect back to their individual purpose.
This group aligns their work purpose closely with their organization’s purpose. To identify their purpose, they need to see how their efforts directly contribute to the larger goals of the organization. While this typology may seem like an ideal member of your team, it’s important to be sure they have a purpose outside of work as well. Connect with them on a personal level to provide guidance and help them to see there’s more to life than work.
Providers focus on financial security and how their work enables this for themselves and their loved ones. It may be difficult for them to connect their individual purpose to the organization’s purpose since most organizations care about more than just financial security. Like Company People, it’s important for them to expand their sense of purpose to encompass a wider group of people, so they can connect more meaningfully and find greater balance.
This typology thinks of a “higher purpose” as a way for them to have a societal or global impact. Like Providers, they may need your help connecting the organization’s purpose with their higher purpose. It also may be challenging to connect their day-to-day work with their higher purpose, especially if their work is routine or mundane. Encouraging them to support a corporate social responsibility initiative or other internal committees may be effective.
Before trying to help employees uncover and live their purpose, first think about why they do the work they do. How you can use this motivation to tailor your one-on-ones, reviews, and other leadership activities to them specifically?
To empower others, you must clearly communicate the benefits of purpose and discuss (often personal) life purposes openly. For this reason, strong communication skills are critical to succeed with the empower pillar.
Harvard Business Review often publishes research on leadership communication. One study in HBR found that “clearly communicates expectations” is one of the top three leadership competencies employees desire. In a 2012 HBR article, Boris Groysberg and Michael Slind suggest that “By talking with employees, rather than simply issuing orders, leaders can retain or recapture some of the qualities—operational flexibility, high levels of employee engagement, tight strategic alignment—that enable start-ups to outperform better-established rivals.” Carve out some time to connect authentically with employees on their purpose and communicate the benefits of having one.
It’s also important to remember that communication goes both ways. While clearly stating expectations and conversing with employees is critical, the importance of listening helps both parties maintain a clear channel. According to SHRM, almost two-thirds of professional workers agree that “leaders making decisions without seeking input” is the biggest problem they have in the workplace. Leading with purpose means you know when it is time to seek input, which can help avoid this problem. A study mentioned in Business News Daily discovered that 88% of employees value when their boss listens to them. Two-way communication makes employees feel valued, an impactful part of the employee experience which can make them feel more comfortable sharing their purpose.
Be sure to show that you are actively listening to your employees when discussing purpose with them. Creating a sense of psychological safety through careful communication is invaluable, especially since individual purposes are often very personal. By clearly communicating the benefits of purpose and helping employees uncover their purpose, you empower your employees to live purposefully.
Part 3 Coming Soon...
At this point, we have seen the importance of modeling purpose and empowering employees to uncover and live their purpose. In the final installment, we will bring it all together and describe how to connect your employees’ purposes to your organization’s purpose and values.