“During the pandemic, our Company Purpose has strengthened,” explained an HR Director of a multinational consulting firm with more than 20k employees. I nodded, knowing that this could be a result of virtual working. I have focused on virtual collaboration since 2013 and know how the team or organizational purpose is essential when working virtually.
Who Needs a Purpose?
The physical spaces can be a binding factor for co-located teams and organizations. Colleagues enter the space and sense that they are in the organization. They are triggered by the visuals, the vibe and the atmosphere and they feel connected. Virtual teams lose the space, visuals and audios so other binding factors play a more prominent role. One of those is the Purpose.
Why the Purpose?
Team purpose defines the reason why the team exists. For instance, “Our team makes the containers so parents can give their children healthy food.” Or “Our team provides information for leaders to feel confident leading.” People feel connected through the process of creating the shared purpose, and also through the regular reviews, discussions and ways the purpose comes alive in the work and interactions. The purpose gives energy to the team, helps keep people engaged, and reminds everyone why they are working together.
How to Create the Purpose?
There are many different ways to create the team purpose and the best is often dependent on the context of the team and their preferred way of working. Here are some ideas:
- Kristine Zumpolle of Zumflow Consulting works with a team to explore what they want to contribute that is bigger than themselves. According to Kristina, it is easier for teams to find their purpose when they are starting, and the purpose is a guide as the team continues to evolve with the changing environment.
- Larry Ebert of StoriesXL invites team members to create compelling stories to illustrate their purpose, values and team identity. Through the stories and process, team members recognize themselves and vitalize the purpose that binds them together.
Almost all models of team excellence include the team’s purpose to create the binding factor in people’s hearts and minds. The team purpose plays an even more prominent role in virtual or hybrid teams to help people feel close in spite of the distance.