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Working Without Purpose Is A Waste Of Time and Money April 15, 2014

Posted by TelUS Consulting Services in Job Opportunities.

“Sometimes you can learn best about a topic by identifying what it isn’t before you define what it is.”

This hit home with me when I was asked how you could know when an organization lacks purpose. I thought the question was brilliant because it challenged me to define purpose by first describing what it was like without purpose.

“Listless” sums up the theme when people lack purpose at work they feel like they are on a boat without a rudder. They lack direction as well as motivation. They also feel underappreciated and disengaged. By contrast when people feel purposeful they are engaged and they put forth the effort to succeed for themselves and by extension the entire organization.

Purposeful organizations create an atmosphere of open exchange. People know what is expected of them because management is clear in its objectives. It also goes the extra mile and connects the work employees do to the success of the organization. People feel connected because they know they are contributing not simply in their function – finance, marketing, logistics, etc. – but to the success of the whole enterprise. When you work in a purposeful organization you know how what you do contributes to the organization’s ability to deliver on its mission.

As rich as that definition is, sometimes it can be hard to get your head around and so by defining “lack of purpose,” you get to the heart of the matter. You describe what it is like to work in a place where people lack information or worse where information is purview of the powerful and privileged. People are expected to do their jobs without question because asking questions is perceived as a threat to authority. Unfortunately far to many companies are burdened with executives that constantly feel threatened and questioning their comments or decisions is almost always perceived as a threat to their authority. Such an atmosphere is disengaged certainly but it’s also a cold and dark place to work.

Perhaps Henry David Thoreau said it best in a letter to a friend when he queried, “It is not enough to be industrious; so are the ants. What are you industrious about?” In other words, hard work is fine, but you want to accomplish anything you need to apply that industrious expenditure toward achieving an intended result.

Purposeful organizations apply intention to what they do. Organizations that lack purpose drift and drag and by doing so waste the skills and talents of their employees.


Joe Buck, NCE

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