Canadian Lawyer InHouse

April/May 2021

Legal news and trends for Canadian in-house counsel and c-suite executives

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Page 38 of 43 37 The common fear when articulating purpose is that it will seem unachievable or unrealistic. But this isn't the time to be realistic — it's an opportunity to be idealistic when the work was done without instructions, the difference was even more exaggerated. Despite a worse result, people valued their work more when it was challenging. There is no one size fits all So how do we get everyone to adopt our purpose? Quite simply: We can't. Just as we all have our own individual purpose in life, not everyone seeks the same meaning in their work. And that's OK. All that matters is that our purpose resonates with the people who matter and inspires them to strive toward it. Everything drives the narrative Like any good narrative, everything should exist to support the story. Purpose should be singular and coherent, filtering from vision statement, mission, values and behaviours to strategy, structures and the way things work. If the vision describes a certain outcome but leaders' actions contradict it, belief wavers. If the mission involves innovation and people are hampered by clunky technology, conviction falters. It isn't about perfection; it's about congruence in the things that matter. Emotions also play a significant role. Purpose isn't driven by logic; otherwise, we wouldn't see people chain themselves in front of bulldozers or pass up six-figure salaries to work with people they like doing jobs they love. Reason only takes us so far — it's emotion that compels us to commit everything. Supporting with structure While purpose provides the evocation, we need to support it with structure to help people work toward it. Communication is a crucial component. KPMG's findings on team engagement and morale didn't relate to organizations that had purpose, they related to organizations where leaders communi- cated purpose. People need to know the organization's purpose — the vision and mission — to understand it and be able to easily articulate it to others. However, it's just as important that they know the behaviours required to get there, what it looks like to achieve it and the individual and collective reward. Numerous studies on motivation show the value of making people's efforts visible. We don't necessarily need massive advances to stay motivated, but tracking progress against our objective and sharing it regularly helps people feel their work is making a difference. Jen Jackson is the founder and CEO of award- winning employee experience company Everyday Massive, where she works with forward-thinking leaders to transform the employee experience. She is also a speaker and author of How to Speak Human. Find out more at

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