Why getting clear on role purpose boosts productivity 20%

burnout coaching tips leadership purpose May 30, 2023

In our previous blog posts, we explored the significance of having a personal purpose and how to find it. Now, we're moving to the next level of the purpose pyramid, which is understanding the importance of having clarity in the purpose of the role you play in your workplace and the role each of your employees plays in the team. Research has shown that our personal purpose and the roles we play at work are intertwined, and this intrinsic link creates our identity. Therefore, being clear on our role purpose can help us perform better at work, be more engaged, and reduce stress.

One of the biggest challenges to providing clarity around role purpose is that many managers are uncertain about their own role purpose, let alone the purpose of their team's roles. This creates a lack of alignment and increases ambiguity and uncertainty for employees. Another challenge is that the purpose of some roles may have shifted over time, which can create confusion and anxiety.

The good news is that there's a solution. By helping your team get a clear understanding of their role purposes, you can boost productivity. In fact, studies have shown that when employees understand their purpose in the organization, they're 85% more engaged in their work, leading to a 20% increase in performance.

However, research has also shown that ambiguity and uncertainty about role purpose can have the opposite effect, leading to decreased productivity and increased stress levels. This is where leaders come in. 

It's important that you have a clear understanding of your own role purpose first. Work with your manager to get really clear on their idea of your role purpose and the expectations of both them and the organisation on you. Often leaders are actually expending significant energy undertaking activities that are far from their purpose and actually belong in the remit of their team members. 

It's also crucial that once you are clear on your own role purpose, you communicate that effectively to your team. This often involves stepping back from the immediate delivery of tasks, and taking on the role of a conductor, ensuring that everything is in balance and everyone is in tune.

Then take some time to reflect on the purpose of each role in your team. One effective way to achieve this is through the use of the ROLES framework, which helps to align the purpose of each role with the overall purpose of the team. This framework takes into account the responsibilities, objectives, leadership, experiences/education, and support needed for each role. Often when teams are created and new roles are created, they are done in isolation and nobody takes the opportunity to step back and think about the bigger picture of the contribution of all the roles to the team. 

You have this amazing opportunity to take a helicopter view and determine whether the responsibilities, objectives, leadership, responsibilities, education, and support that each role requires, actually line up. If you identify gaps or other discrepancies in the holistic picture, you have a great opportunity to deal with them there and then. 

R = Responsibilities

O = Objectives 

L = Leadership

E = Experiences / Education

S = Support

If you'd like to go deeper on this framework, we have a WoW Lab that we can take you and your team through in under 2 hours to help with this. 

Next, it's time to start talking to your team. These conversations should be a two-way street, with the leader asking questions to gain insight into the employee's interpretation of their role, and the employee providing feedback to ensure that their understanding aligns with the overall team objectives. By comparing their responses with your own assessment from the ROLES framework, you can ensure that everyone is on the same page and reduce any uncertainty or anxiety your team members might have about their role.

Many employees only refer to the top of their job description for their role purpose, which is often poorly written or unclear. To provide clarity, take the time to revise and refresh the job descriptions with your team. Use the job description as a conversation prompt to agree and clarify what the role is meant to be. This process can also reveal any changes in the purpose of the role over time, allowing you to realign expectations and purpose.

By helping to clarify the purpose of roles within a team, leaders can reduce uncertainty and anxiety for employees, resulting in increased engagement, lower levels of stress, and higher levels of performance. This in turn creates a positive and high-performing culture within the team, driving the team's success and overall business results.


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