The Purpose Effect: Building Meaning in Yourself, Your Role and Your Organization

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Elevate Publishing, May 10, 2016 - BUSINESS & ECONOMICS - 272 pages
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Pontefract combines years of experience and research on employee engagement, behavior and culture to create a work about the three crucial areas of purpose: personal, organizational and workplace role. If all three can come to fruition--if there is a positive interconnection between the three distinct definitions of purpose--the benefits should be felt by employees, teams, the organization, customers, and perhaps most importantly, society as a whole. We can refer to this balanced state as the "sweet spot." When one area is lacking or ignored the results range from disengagement, apathy, lack of growth and even bankruptcy.

The Purpose Effect is aimed at both leaders and employees who wish to achieve a purpose mindset on a personal level, for the organization where they are employed and in their role at work, too.

A business leader that is committed to purpose will create purpose for the organization. An employee that feels his/her personal sense of purpose is being fulfilled at work will be an invaluable asset to productivity and success. An organization centered on purpose will benefit every stakeholder, from employees to society in general. This "sweet spot" of purpose creates a reciprocal relationship between all three areas, and sits at the center of Pontefract's work.

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Review: The Purpose Effect: Building Meaning in Yourself, Your Role, and Your Organization

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As the author, I have read it several hundred times ... and am a wee bit biased, of course. ;-) Read full review

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About the author (2016)

The Opportunity for Purpose

Since 1994, I have enjoyed the good fortune of working with people and teams in both corporate and academic settings. Throughout my career, whether working internally with thousands of peers, interviewing various leaders and employees across the globe or consulting with organizations who seek counsel and guidance on their own internal culture and operating practices, I have noticed the emergence of a unique pattern.

The Purpose Effect is a three-way relationship between an individual's personal sense of purpose in life, the organization's purpose and a person's purpose in their role at work. When all three aspects of purpose are properly defined, are well aligned and function in partnership with one another, then the employee, the organization and society mutually benefit. When they are not, it can lead to significant damage in society and in the organization. The Purpose Effect is the pattern I have exposed.

If an organization exhibits a high degree of purpose in its mission and objectives--taking a stand to benefit society--there is a good possibility that employees will more easily demonstrate purpose in their roles at work, likely aiding and adding to their own personal sense of purpose in life as well. It is no coincidence that the organization, society and the employee greatly benefit when this occurs.

If an individual joins an organization that is in direct conflict with their personal sense of purpose, there is a strong likelihood they will develop a workplace mindset that is negative, ambivalent, even melancholic. If the role an individual performs provides the opportunity to demonstrate purpose--in alignment with both a personal sense of purpose and that of the organization--there is a very good chance of increased engagement, even fulfillment.

Think of it as a three-legged barstool. If one of the legs is broken or uneven, either an individual ends up crashing to the ground or there is a perpetual wobble, prompting a feeling of uneasiness, of disequilibrium. Such a lack of balance in the workplace can result in personal disengagement, disbandment of a team, or in the direst instance, the end of the organization itself. Those who lack direction in these situations, simply go through the motions, longing for the day when their opinions and ideas mattered, helpless as senior leaders pursue an organizational purpose that has no meaning for them personally. Any lack of alignment between the three categories of purpose--the barstool legs--can have devastating consequences at both an individual and a collective level.

The Purpose Effect requires balance, harmony and ultimately alignment between a person's life, the organization where they are employed and their role at work. When this alignment is present, there are strength and unity between the three categories. When such strength and unity are prevalent, they result in psychological and emotional employee commitment. That is, when an employee feels part of something bigger at work and it aligns with their personal sense of purpose, they perform better. The organization also benefits. Deloitte reported purpose-first types of organizations "have 30 percent higher levels of innovation and 40 percent higher levels of retention, and they tend to be first or second in their market segment."