What’s your team’s purpose? What do they think?

26th August 2014

If you asked your team “what is our purpose?”, what would they say?

In my experience, they would talk about one of three things:

  • What they are – “we are leaders”
  • Whey they do – “we lead our people”
  • What they cause – “we help grow the business”

Clearly, the last of these is the one that others are most interested in. Another example – this time, tax accountants:

  • “We are tax accountants”
  • “We complete tax returns”
  • “We reduce our clients’ tax payments”

And another – an IT company:

  • “We are IT specialists”
  • “We source IT, and ensure it works”
  • “We help our clients grow, by making their workforce more efficient”

One way to ensure you focus on the “cause” is to remember the word AFTERs: in other words, why are others better off AFTER you have done your work?

Do they make better decisions? Sell more? Save time? Reduce costs? Impress customers? Look good to the Board? Get peace of mind? Look good to the boss? Something else?

If someone asks what I do, and I gave the reply “I’m a consultant”, they would say “between jobs, are you?” But I don’t say that. Instead, I say “I help people communicate better than they dreamed possible”. Their response: “I bet you are busy! We could do with that here”

And so back to my question again: if you asked your team “what is our purpose?”, what would they say? Would they discuss what they do? Or what they cause?

Help them see it’s the latter. Everyone – you, them, the people you work with – will be delighted you did.

Action point

Next team meeting, ask the question “what is our purpose?”, and see how they reply.

Unless it focuses on what they cause, teach them about AFTERs, and help them identify why people are better off AFTER working with you all.

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