Ask These 4 Questions to Build a Purpose-Driven Team

For those of us that have been in the restaurant industry for a long time, it’s easy to go through our days as if they were a checklist; complete the tasks associated to our role, attend the meetings we’re a part of, contribute to projects we’re working on.  We often forget that there is a purpose to why we’re doing what we’re doing, or we assume we know what it is without really giving it some thought (and we all know what assuming does…).  Of course things will get done if you don’t take a step back to become aware of the greater purpose, still there is real merit to figuring it out and claiming it.  Getting to your purpose is the result of answering questions like this:

  • Why do we exist (as an organization, as a team, etc.)?
  • What are we here to do?
  • Why do we do what we do?
  • Why does anyone care about what we do?
  • Why do we come to work every day?

When people identify and are aligned around the purpose of their position, a team they’re on, a project they’re a part of, or even a meeting they’re in, good communication increases, more creative work gets done, and individual engagement soars.

In our organization, you’ll see purposes identified all over the place:

The Lola FOH team developed a job description for a FOH Manager on Duty, and defined that role’s purpose this way:  To be a responsible business manager, to facilitate great service, and to empower teammates to provide an intentional experience for our guests and one another through inspired hospitality.

The Young Joni FOH team took some time a while back to evaluate their shared vision, values, and tasks to dig deeper into the reason that they are a team (not just individuals running shifts) to come up with this purpose: To bring people together into a community that values respect, integrity, passion, and hospitality.

Amie Bresnahan and I are creating a Vestalia hourly training program, our purpose for the project is this: To create a culture-based, systematic framework that guides, empowers, and supports each restaurant in developing their own in-house training programs.”

There are many ways to use a defined purpose, one of the more important ones includes coming back to it as a way to stay oriented – Do we all agree we’re here to do the same thing? Are our major responsibilities, decisions we’re making, or possibilities we’re chasing within the scope of the purpose, or are they outside of it? Another important use is that it is also a powerful tool that can keep yourself and your team motivated and out of the day-to-day checklist mode, especially when it’s accompanied by things like vision and strategy. For more on that, check out this article posted on…


Ask These 4 Questions to Build a Purpose-Driven Team

Without purpose, your team will go nowhere … fast. Here’s how to identify and communicate your business’s purpose to keep everyone inspired.

Adapted from article by Lee Colan Co-founder, The L Group

Published on, October 16, 2013

You’ve probably heard the adage, “Make every minute count!” But count toward what? How do you know if your minutes count?

To know, you have to measure your time and effort against something. That something is your purpose. Without a compelling purpose, you are just putting in time. Your mind might be engaged, but your heart will not be. And if you want your team members to make every minute count, give them something to be passionate about. When you get your team members inspired about a purpose, their hearts will follow.

The Fundamental Four

Your purpose needs to answer the most fundamental question, “Why do we do what we do?” If your organization has a stated purpose, connect your team’s work directly to it. If no one has yet painted the organizational picture, don’t wait. Take the initiative to define a purpose for your team.

First, step back and look at the big picture. Consider how your team members improve conditions for others–what differences do they make? Be bold. Your team’s purpose should stir emotions. At the same time, keep your purpose real and relevant, because people can commit only to what they understand.

After you’ve defined the purpose, you must answer the fundamental four questions that every employee asks, whether or not they ask them aloud.

  1. Where are we going? (Vision + Goals)
  2. What are we doing to get there?(Strategy + Action Plans)
  3. How can I contribute? (Roles + Responsibilities)
  4. What’s in it for me?(Celebration + Rewards)

To paint a clear picture of your purpose, you’ll need to be intentional about answering these questions. Some organizations even use the questions as a checklist to ensure that the content of significant communiqués addresses each one. As a result, the passion in their organizations is palpably higher and their results greater.

Answering the fundamental four creates a bridge that connects today’s tasks to the broader team or organizational purpose. Without purpose, team members may achieve short-term results, but they won’t have the heart to go the distance. With purpose, they naturally will be more passionate about their work and more motivated to stick with the plan, because they’ll clearly understand that they are part of something bigger.

What do you think?  After you’ve processed all of that info, start taking stock of where purpose is identified and where it is not in your day-to-day at work, if or how you’re using it, and the affect that its presence or absence is having.  If you feel like you could benefit from identifying or redefining purpose in any aspect of your job, answer those “why” questions with your team and find a guide if you need one (like me or Kris Mertz or give it a go with a peer!).

As always, send me your feedback if you have it!  Let me know if I’m hitting or missing the mark on my purpose for sending out these articles every week:

To provide a steady flow of thought-provoking material that is in alignment with the vision, values and goals of our organization so that Vestalia team members can connect to information that helps them develop and succeed in their role.

Thank you for your time!  -Becky

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