Contribution is Key

A plant supervisor I coach told me about something that solidified his belief in his company.

And it’s a great lesson for leaders everywhere.

This supervisor’s work occasionally took him on location with their customers in other parts of the country. And seeing the huge benefit local communities get from his company’s product, gave him a sense of pride in the business.

We then talked about his team, who didn’t have that same opportunity to visit customers, and thus didn’t get to see the product in action. We talked about how important it is for a leader to connect the work of the people he supervises to the difference that work makes in the real world.

It’s the concept of contribution. It’s something I’ve written about here before and this supervisor got it right away. He talked about how his team shares Facebook posts from a customer who uses their product and a recent newspaper article that mentioned the use of their product in disaster recovery.

It’s an especially important topic in a manufacturing facility like the one this supervisor works in. Most of the people who work in manufacturing don’t have the opportunity to see the difference their work makes for the end customer.

It’s the job of the leader to connect individual contributions to real world impact. That’s how you connect people to the mission of the company and make them understand that their work is making a difference in the lives of real people.

It’s what makes work meaningful and it hardly needs to be said that people are more likely to stay in meaningful jobs.

So, if you lead people, be sure to let them know the contribution their work makes to the lives of their fellow humans.

Aligning the two kinds of Purpose

One of the best books I’ve ever read on motivation was Drive by Daniel Pink, where he examines the science around the three pillars of motivation: autonomy, mastery and purpose.

Purpose is what I dig in on with my clients in the first phase of my 4D Transformation Method: Define the Culture. Pink makes a helpful distinction between the two different kinds of purpose.

The first one, which he calls “Big P Purpose” is about the difference you make in the world. It’s solving world hunger, revolutionizing technology, things like that.

The second one – Small P Purpose – is about contribution. It’s knowing that the work we do makes a difference for someone.

But you don’t have to choose between the two kinds of purpose – they are most powerful when aligned.

What does that look like? In this video, I give two examples: a janitor and a bricklayer.

Did you watch it? You might be thinking, that’s great for NASA and the church, but what about my business? Can connection to purpose really drive results in my business?

Meet Pat Swyter, the owner-operator of Four Way Insulation. He said that working with FiveFour to define his culture was part of the reason he had a 20% revenue increase after several years without growth:

Do you feel as if the people in your business are lacking either kind of purpose? To find out, take this short assessment and then get a strategy session with me where you’ll get clarity and focus on your purpose.

It could be the most important strategy session you’ve ever had.