This post is part two of a series on re-engaging your team amid Covid-19. Last week, we published a piece on the importance of building a culture of vulnerability on your team. If you haven't read it yet, we suggest you start there.
A lot has changed over the course of the Covid-19 epidemic—and if you're a health care leader, what your organization and patients needed at the start of this crisis likely looks very different than what they need now. As a result, many leaders are looking for ways to re-engage their team as they navigate the continued uncertainty. One of the best ways to provide clarity is by defining a purpose that your team can use as an "anchor" amid all of the change.
Before we explore how your team can define and execute on their purpose, let's unpack why purpose can be such a powerful tool. When we talk with health care leaders, they highlight four key functions of purpose:
At its core, purpose defines who the team serves and the value it creates for them. A purpose differs from a mission or vision statement because it focuses on how the team can serve others, rather than what the team wants to do or achieve.
Here are three ways you can use purpose to re-engage your team:
1. Prioritize input from key stakeholders when defining your purpose
When defining your purpose, it's important to have an understanding of what your organization needs most from your team right now.
To determine who you'll need input from, leaders can start by asking their team the following questions:
Once you have a clear idea of who your key stakeholders are, ask them the following questions to isolate the impact of your product or service and the tasks they need your team to excel at:
As you review their feedback, it might be helpful to ask your team the question, "What would the organization miss out on if we weren't here?" This information should be the core of your team's purpose. There's no perfect formula—focus on capturing your team's impact and value you create for others.
2. Ensure your team is focused on tasks that align with their purpose
Effective leaders remind their team of their purpose by keeping it visible and using as a tool to assess the tasks their team should focus on. To keep purpose front of mind, we suggest starting important meetings by restating the purpose or posting the statement in a location where it's easily seen. If there are certain members on your team who have trouble adhering to your new purpose statement, have a conversation with them to better understand why they may be having difficulty letting go of a responsibility or task.
Similarly, when your team is asked to take on a new responsibility, ask, "Does this task align with our purpose statement?" If not, check back in with the stakeholders you solicited input from to make sure everyone in the organization is aligned around the scope of your responsibilities and whether they should change.
3. Iterate on your purpose over time
Your purpose isn't permanent, and it should change as your stakeholders' needs do. It might be time to shift your purpose if your team is having difficulty getting initiatives off the ground—this indicates your team may not be adding value to your stakeholders.
It can also be helpful—perhaps now more than ever—to periodically check in with key stakeholders to see if their priorities have changed. Here are some questions you can ask to assess if your purpose still matches their needs:
As organizational priorities change, check in with your team to ask, "How are we contributing to the organization's overall purpose?" Covid-19 is a marathon, not a sprint, so it’s likely that your team’s purpose will evolve over time. Nonetheless, taking the time to align everyone around a shared goal will re-engage your team as we navigate the uncertain months ahead.
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