Using purpose to motivate your team

by | Nov 20, 2020

It’s hard for employees to feel motivated without understanding their purpose. Of course, colleagues will complete tasks if they are instructed to, but the quality and speed of delivery won’t be where it needs to be if they don’t have a genuine desire to complete tasks and achieve their goals.

The purpose is the fuel to your car, without it you will only travel so far before momentum slows and the journey ends. Purpose will give your business the stamina it needs to realise its long-term goals, acting as a key motivator for the talented individuals working tirelessly to make the organisation’s vision a reality.

There’s a common misconception that workers are only motivated by money, with businesses offering yearly bonuses to reward people for their efforts. However, this carrot and stick approach will only take your business so far, as the needs of your workers evolve and priorities change.

Incentives are just one part of the wider purpose model. There are other avenues that businesses must explore if they are to develop a motivated and committed workforce. If you fail to meet the needs of your employees, then staff turnover will be high and the journey to success will be prolonged.

Primary needs and desires

Whilst a strategic purpose provides direction for the organisation, it also motivates people to complete organisational objectives. Everyone needs purpose and meaning in their life – they don’t just want to know where the business is going, they also want to know why?

Simply put, do the long-term goals of your organisation align with your employee’s? As already mentioned, offering people extra money to complete tasks might be effective in the beginning, but over time employees want more from their work.

Money, membership, mastery and meaning are the four primary needs and desires people possess – your employees might be well paid for their contribution, but is the culture of your organisation accepting and do they feel like an important part of the team?

Similarly, most employees have a desire to develop their skills over time, becoming better at what they do, instead of plateauing and making no real progress. Ultimately, people want their lives to have purpose, so they feel like they are making a positive impact on the world, which is why it’s important for your organisation to have a clear strategic purpose that people believe in.

Clear mission statement

From a business perspective, it’s important to identify a mission statement that captures your purpose and is a frame of reference for selecting goals, developing procedures and making decisions. Unlike vision, which emphasises future dreams and potential accomplishment, mission focuses on your corporate purpose and reason for being.

It’s this mission statement that motivates employees during times of stress and uncertainty (like the pandemic), ensuring they stay on track and work through obstacles that would otherwise stand in their way.

A clear business mission illustrates the purpose of the organisation in terms of the products or services provided and the positive impact this has on customers. Only by understanding this mission, can employees truly feel like an important part of the team, recognising the significant role they play in accomplishing worthwhile work.

Without purpose and reason, individual action becomes less powerful, as workers feel demotivated and are less likely to show long-term commitment. By identifying a clear mission statement, you inspire the people within your organisation to work harder, as they unlock personal development opportunities along the way.