Before the COVID-19 pandemic, meaningful work was already high on the management agenda. Employees were exhorted to find their “calling”; leaders, their “why”; organizations, their “true north.” There were good reasons for this: Studies have shown that high levels of meaning and purpose lead to improved engagement, productivity, and innovation.
But the pandemic raised the stakes even higher. It caused many of us to pause and reevaluate the role work plays in our lives and what truly matters to us.
Faced with this challenge, managers may be tempted to amplify internal messaging around corporate purpose. While purpose beyond profit is vital for a host of environmental, social, and financial reasons, relying on this approach alone to raise levels of individual meaning can backfire. The more employers try to tell employees where to find the meaning in their work, the less likely people are to actually find it. An authentic sense of purpose is not simply imposed; it is discovered.
In our Power of Purpose Workshop, we help participants learn how to talk with one another about purpose. Engaging in dialogue is integral to discovering meaning. Talking with a trusted conversational partner helps us shape how we understand ourselves, interpret the world, and relate to others. As we listen to others speak about meaning and purpose, and they listen to us, we help one another discover it. We have found in our consulting work over the years that four barriers make such conversations difficult. By the end of this workshop, participants will have the knowledge and tools to understand and overcome each of these barriers.