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The Purpose Revolution: How to Coach Employees

The Purpose Revolution: How to Coach Employees

Employees want their organizations to have a purpose focus: Research shows that 60 percent of employees want their work to have purpose, yet almost 70 percent of employees say the company they work for is mostly interested in profits and serving its own needs rather than the needs of the community, including customers and employees.

In his series of articles on transforming corporate culture for the website Sustainable Brands and as discussed from his new book, The Purpose Revolution: How Leaders Create Engagement and Competitive Advantage in an Age of Social Good, business visionary Dr. John Izzo shares how to coach employees and empower their purpose.

Drive job purpose not job function

One of the key ways to connect employees with their purpose is to dialogue about job purpose over job function. A great example happens at Disney parks, where employees are challenged to understand that no matter their job function, the primary job purpose for everyone is spreading happiness! The job function may be collecting tickets, cleaning bathrooms, serving food, but the deeper purpose of every person’s job is to make park guests happier. It’s not hard to imagine how this mindset helps bring more purpose to jobs that might otherwise seem less meaningful. When you can help people connect with their job purpose—so that they see it as separate from their job function—they discover how their position can be a calling and not merely a job. Their engagement and performance will increase, and they will be more content at work and in their personal lives. Explaining purpose to others (the greater value behind their tasks) and driving purpose in an organization take practice, but once mastered these skills can make a big difference to the success of a team or company. As important as it is for leaders to communicate job purpose, the most effective way to coach is to share your personal purpose statement and then have team members identify their own job purpose.

Begin the coaching conversation before it’s too late

Leaders kick themselves when they lose a good employee because of a failure to recognize someone’s true purpose. The unrecognized employee will often leave for greener pastures — for a different position where they can apply their skills and talents to make a greater impact.

 Here’s how you can start to coach on purpose:

  1. Ask people why they come to work besides money — What gets them up in the morning and what makes for a day when they feel they made a difference?
  2. Focus our communication on the purpose of jobs, not just the function — How does each role matter to customers, colleagues and the organization?
  3. Recognize people for living their purpose. Once we know their purpose, focus our appreciation on seeing them “live their purpose.”

Dr. John Izzo has advised some of the best companies in the world on employee-engagement strategies and brand transformations. He has advised companies such as TELUS, McDonald’s, and RBC on activating purpose.