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How to create an inspired workforce: Uncover

Earlier this week, I posted the first blog in a series aimed at creating an inspired workforce. I will share additional posts over the coming weeks to support leaders, managers, and supervisors in this effort.

In summary, the first two steps are to 1.) discover the total job role, which consists of both job functions (duties & tasks) and job essence (purpose; single highest priority at work), and 2.) articulate the answers to the Four Questions to establish direction, priorities, standards, and expectations (i.e., True North) for you and your team.

Here’s the next step to create an inspired workforce: 3. Uncover the higher purpose of the job role.

In some cases, an organization’s purpose applies to every job role in the company. The hotel company Hyatt comes to mind. Its purpose statement reads: “To care for people so they can be their best.” This applies to everyone’s job role, whether they are a housekeeper, front desk agent, restaurant server, maintenance engineer, or general manager.

Other times, the organization’s sweeping purpose statement will be less relevant to the daily job responsibilities of its employees. In the last post, I hinted that Kroger’s organizational purpose, To feed the human spirit, may not resonate as the job purpose—the single highest priority—for many Kroger job roles. Although noble, it is rather lofty and abstract and doesn’t pertain directly to the job role of, say, an employee whose responsibilities include sacking groceries, bringing carts inside the store from the parking lot, sweeping the floor, and cleaning the public restrooms.

If I were this employee’s supervisor, I would find it awkward to cajole him into cleaning a public restroom or mopping up a spill on aisle 10 by championing the job purpose: “Feed the human spirit, Todd!”

In this case, it’s important to honor the organization’s purpose while adapting the job role’s purpose to one that is relevant to the role and will resonate with the employee. A closer look at Kroger’s corporate ideals reveals that this purpose is meant to accomplish its pledge “to be friendly and caring, provide everything fresh, to uplift every way, and improve every day.” Now we have something to work with.

I may submit that this employee’s job purpose, his single highest priority at work, is to provide everything fresh. As his supervisor, I might set the aspirational goal of “Provide everything fresh!” With that mantra as the standard, a dirty public restroom or allowing a spill on aisle 10 to linger is unacceptable. It puts a stake in the ground. It is Kroger’s line in the sand that no one dares breach. Doing so would not be tolerated by employees who have committed to provide everything fresh.

In the next blog post in the series, I’ll share a performance management tool you can use to reveal the total job role to peers and direct reports, link daily work activities to the higher purpose of the organization and job role, and inspire greater employee engagement. I hope you’ll return for that post. In the meantime, feel free to drop questions or share feedback in the comments.

Order Delight Your Customers: 7 Simple Ways to Raise Your Customer Service from Ordinary to Extraordinary by Steve Curtin or purchase from select retailers, including Barnes & Noble.
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