Purpose makes us more resilient. Perhaps the clearest study showing bottom-line gains from instilling a sense of purpose was conducted by Adam Grant at a call center in 2007.
The call center focused on bringing in donations for college scholarships. The five-minute purpose intervention involved introducing the students receiving scholarships to the call center staff. One month later, the staff who spoke directly with the students had spent twice as much time making calls and more than doubled the donations they solicited.
To reap rewards like these, focus on helping your team find purpose.
- Take a moment to think about how the work output of your team contributes to helping others or solving problems. How is it connected to a larger goal? Challenge yourself to describe all this in a few sentences.
- Have a conversation with someone you trust, maybe a colleague or mentor in a similar field. See if they can offer a fresh perspective on your team's purpose. Share your own ideas with them, as well. It'll be good practice for talking to your team.
- After this initial "purpose finding" mission, you are ready to share your thoughts with your whole team. If your mentor or colleague said anything particularly eloquent or inspiring in your conversation, feel free to pass that along.
- Get creative. In what way can you tangibly connect your team, or yourself, with the larger purpose of your work?
- Is there a person, group, or place that represents the purpose for which your work is being done?
- Is there an organizational, departmental, or team-level philosophy that can be shared to more deeply connect your team to a larger sense of meaning in their work?
As Grant's study shows us, even a five-minute intervention can make a huge difference. When so little goes such a long way, putting in the work is surely worth it.