Why purpose is key to us and our work


What gets you out of bed in the morning?


Are you looking forward to doing something? Meeting friends, training for a competition or going to work?


Or is it because you have to? We should meet colleagues, do some training or go to work.


The same activities but very different experiences: when we want to do things we’re typically more determined, engaged and we enjoy it.


Unfortunately, motivation often transitions from “want to” to “should do” as we get older, draining the excitement out of life and turning it into an endless to-do list.


But it doesn’t have to be that way.


I heard Dr Thupten Jinpa, the Dalai Lama’s translator, speak about the importance of compassion and sense of purpose a few years ago in London but it’s only recently that I’ve really come to appreciate how important it can be to both individuals and the organisations that they work in.


I certainly appreciate that there are a number of other important factors but in my experience we’re in a much better position to overcome challenges if what we’re doing really matters to us.


In the organisational context an inspirational and well communicated common purpose that answers what the organisations does and why can have a dramatic effect on performance. To quote recent research involving interviews with 1,200 people in large UK businesses:


The evidence is solid: purpose-led organisations not only have happier staff and customers, they happen to be more profitable too.


And yet many people still feel that their organisation lacks purpose; the same research also found that 64% felt that their organisation had no clear purpose.


That’s a shame because not only does it have a detrimental impact on performance and people’s experience at work it can also have a number of secondary effects that exacerbate the situation.


For example, when people don’t know where they are going they can invest time and money into initiatives that aren’t aligned with organisational direction. Unfortunately, management often respond by trying to control these situations with approaches such as restructuring or introducing new policies or process. All steps that unintentionally communicate distrust and demotivate people.


So whether you’re struggling at home or work I’d recommend considering whether a meaningful purpose might help your situation.


This blog is the first in a series of three on the key areas of focus of organisation development that was introduced in an earlier blog.


What do you think? If you have any thoughts or comments, please share below or send me a LinkedIn connection request.


Koru helps clients understand their organisational challenges and supports them in the development and implementation of solutions. To discuss your needs please contact us.

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