Episode: How to Help Your Team Find Their Why
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Larry Wilson: Hey, Andrew. How are you?
Andrew: I’m doing well. How are you?
Larry: Cool. Doing good. Doing really good. Hey, quick question for you.
Larry: Why do you do the work you do?
Andrew: That’s a good question.
Michael Hyatt: Today’s topic is how to help your team find their why. As an experiment, Larry Wilson, one of our writers, cold-called members of the Michael Hyatt & Company team and asked them a simple question: “Why do you do the work you do?”
Megan Hyatt Miller: We have not heard these calls yet, and we’re dying to hear what our team members said about this.
Michael: I know. I’m a little scared/excited.
Megan: But excited. Yeah.
Larry: Why do you do the work you do?
Female: Uh…that’s a deep question.
Male: Why do I do the work I do?
Larry: Hey, a quick question for you.
Larry: Why do you do the work you do?
Female: That is an interesting question. Geez. Wow. I feel like I’m being put on the spot. Okay, let me think.
Female: Deep down, I always had this desire to help people reach their full potential. I like being people’s cheerleader. Life circumstances cause people to doubt themselves, so it makes me want to protect people from themselves.
Female: Why do I do it? I think one of the big things is that I get a lot of joy and fulfillment from knowing that I am helping people to become the best individual they can be and also to increase their organizational efficiency. A lot of that starts with being really great to people and helping people to discover their strengths along the way.
Male: I was self-employed for nine years before this, and I always said if I got out of that it would have to be a situation where it was something I was really passionate about in terms of the goals of the company and mission of the company. I think with Michael Hyatt, he was somebody I admired so much for so long, and just to see his passion and see the goals of this company and the mission of this company was something I could really get behind.
In terms of the company, there are a billion reasons I could give you. I really, really care about what we do. I believe that what we talk about is true, that life is only worth living if you get to have the priorities of your family and your health and your margin and you’re not a slave to your work; it doesn’t have to be either/or. So I really like the fact that we give people that choice and the path back to that.
Female: I don’t think there are many more places in the world that I could work where I look at our senior leadership and think to myself, “That’s what I want to be like when I grow up,” so to speak. When I get to be 10 or 15 years more advanced in my career and honing my craft, I want my professionalism and leadership to look like that.
Female: My heart and passion is to see people fulfill their calling and their purpose in life, and I feel like Michael Hyatt & Company does a really good job of helping people realize what their purpose is and then giving them the tools to equip them to actually fulfill their calling.
Michael: Well, I have to say I’m relieved, because you never know what you’re going to get. This was really cold calling.
Megan: I’m just super encouraged. First of all, it sounds like we’re being successful in connecting people with a bigger why, which is great, but also it just reminds me how grateful I am for the people we have the privilege of working with. They’re truly amazing people who are self-propelled, filled with a sense of commitment to our mission and their own personal mission, and they see a connection between those two things. As a leader, I don’t know what else I could ask for.
Michael: This is the kind of thing as an employer, frankly, you can’t buy. You can get people to sit in the seat and go through the work, but what you can’t buy is their heart. That’s something they have to bring to the equation themselves. Did any of those reasons that our teammates were giving resonate with you?
Megan: Yeah. I loved the common theme was that our people are passionate about helping, whether their realm of influence is our employees or our customers and clients reach their full potential. That gets me so excited, because that’s what I care about. That’s what we’re about as a company, and the fact that that has caught on and connected with our team is just great.
Michael: Does that define your “why”?
Michael: I would say it does for me too, because the thing I’m the most passionate about is seeing transformation in other people. Certainly, I want to see transformation in my own life, and I think that’s a prerequisite for me helping other people experience transformation, but the thing that gets me so excited… We were doing a strategic planning meeting yesterday, and we were talking about the kinds of activities we’re going to be involved in in 2019. I made the very point that I want to do more stuff where I can witness firsthand transformation in our clients and in our teammates.
Megan: Absolutely. I love to think about that not just for our clients and customers but for the team themselves. It’s almost like as we’re pursuing that transformation for our clients we’re transformed ourselves, which is like a double benefit.
Michael: Okay. We have much more today on this topic, but we should start the show first.
Megan: Oh yeah. We almost forgot.
Larry: I have one more question for you. Would you be okay if we used that on the podcast?
Female: Totally. That would be awesome.
Michael: Hi, I’m Michael Hyatt.
Megan: And I’m Megan Hyatt Miller.
Michael: And this is Lead to Win, our weekly podcast to help you win at work, succeed at life, and lead with confidence. In this episode, we’ll show you how to motivate your team by helping them identify the meaning in what they do.
Megan: As leaders, we know that real growth happens only when people go beyond simply putting in the time and bringing their best energy to work. The problem is that team members sometimes see their job as nothing but a paycheck. Here at Michael Hyatt & Company we’ve developed a high-purpose, high-energy team, and today we’ll show you how to get the best effort from your team by asking four questions that clarify the purpose of their work. When we’re done, you’ll have everything you need to help your team find their why. As a result, you’ll avoid the stagnation that comes from having a half-hearted workforce, and you’ll gain a highly engaged team that gives their best energy to your company’s mission.
Michael: Hey, I can’t wait to dive into this topic, but first a reminder. If you’ve not subscribed to Lead to Win, do that right now wherever you listen to podcasts. You’ll get fresh actionable ideas delivered to you every week, and you won’t want to miss out on special bonus episodes that we don’t release through other channels. If you need help, just visit leadto.win/subscribe. Thanks.
Megan: So, Dad, why does purpose matter so much?
Michael: Well, it matters a whole lot, as we teach in Your Best Year Ever, for our individual lives, but it also works in the context of our companies. Purpose-driven companies are more successful. Management expert Brian Carney says there are two types of organizations: what organizations, which are focused on what they do, and why organizations that are focused on why they do it. One of the great positive things in hearing those comments from our teammates was that it’s clear that we’re building a why organization. Do you remember the best seller The Purpose Driven Life?
Megan: Yeah. Who could forget?
Michael: That wasn’t before your time. Right? It sold a gazillion copies. There are also purpose-driven companies, and that’s really what we’re talking about here. The most important companies, the companies that have longevity, that have greater impact in the world are companies that are purpose-driven.
Megan: By the way, Carney shares a lot about this in a recent article in Harvard Business Review. There’s a link in the show notes. He also contributed to the Michael Hyatt magazine with an article called “In Defense of Remote Work.”
Michael: So, first, purpose-driven companies are more successful, but secondly, purpose-driven companies deliver greater job satisfaction. This flows from the first premise. They’re high-trust organizations, so their teams have a lot of latitude. In other words, you can allow remote work, people setting their own deadlines. Not a lot of supervision is required. Team members trained more on why they do what they do than how they do it are going to have greater job satisfaction. So when hiring, they connect people to roles that give them significance.
Megan: When we think about this at Michael Hyatt & Company, we really focus on results for people. We figure if they understand the why behind what we’re doing and they understand their role in the why and the results we expect of them, we don’t really have to micromanage how they get there. In fact, the ways they might find on their own to get there could be way better than anything we think of. That’s really satisfying for people.
Michael: It is. And by the way, that’s usually the case. They usually find a much better way to get there, a much better strategy if they know their why. The context of this, again, if we go back to Your Best Year Ever and what we teach there… When you have big goals, if you’re going to accomplish them you have to be able to connect to your why. When you help your teammates connect to your why, you’re going to get past just having people who are watching the clock, marking time, doing the perfunctory things. They’re going to find their own reasons for doing what they do.
Megan: It’s really like the why is the engine that drives the car. It actually animates the activity and emotion and drives it forward, and without that you just don’t have a lot of power.
Michael: I have to say, as a manager, one of the things I don’t want to do is try to motivate people. It’s exhausting. What I would like to do is help people find their own reasons and attract people, like in the comments from our teammates, who are attracted to the company’s mission and have their own internal drive that just happens to be aligned with what drives us.
Megan: So, a company with a high sense of purpose has greater team engagement and tends to be successful. We’ve identified four clarifying questions that can help your team connect to a sense of purpose. Of course, all of this assumes that you do have a strong sense of purpose in your business. That’s a discussion for another time. For today, though, Dad, what’s the first question to help your team find their why?
Michael: The first clarifying question is…How do you deliver value to the customer? This is important. Certainly, we go into business to make money. That’s a given. Right? Unless you’re making money and you’re doing it in a sustainable way, nothing else becomes possible. But here’s the problem with that. According to one study we found, there’s less than a 2 percent overlap between pay and job satisfaction. In other words, if somebody is not finding their own internal reasons for being satisfied with their job, there’s not enough you can pay them to buy that satisfaction. Basically, every study confirms these intrinsic motivations are stronger and more lasting and more impactful, but people want to see that their effort is making the world better.
Megan: Right. That’s what we saw with our team in those comments.
Michael: Totally. When you have a conversation with colleagues or people in other industries, the most rewarding ones are people who are talking about how their business is making a difference in the world. I couldn’t care less about their stock price or what their profit margins are. That’s just kind of a given, but I want to know how they are making better products or how they are making them more affordable or offering better experiences or showing a better way of doing things.
Megan: When he introduced the Model T in 1908, Henry Ford said that he wanted to “build a car for the great multitude. It will be large enough for the family but small enough for the individual to run and care for. It will be constructed of the best materials, by the best men to be hired, after the simplest designs that modern engineering can devise. But it will be so low in price that no man making a good salary will be unable to own one.” Wow.
Michael: That’s an amazing vision statement.
Megan: It is. What a snapshot of purpose: superior product, value to customer, affordable. People can get aligned around that.
Michael: So true. The problem is we’re disconnected from our work product. If there’s one insight I think we can agree on from Karl Marx (and this is probably the only thing we can agree on), it’s that the industrial workers of their day became alienated from their work. That was really the thing that started him on his quest to find a different system. He probably came up with the wrong system, but at least it started at the right place.
We may believe our company is doing good work, but if you’re crunching numbers all day, how do you help the customer? You have to connect the dots and show how it adds value to the world. You have to be able to show every team member that their work contributes to a greater good. I think, frankly, that’s our job as leaders. We have to connect the dots.
Megan: That happens during the hiring process, in one-on-one meetings, during annual reviews, during culture training. There are a lot of opportunities for this. If you see this as part of your mission as a leader to connect your team with their why, there are a lot of opportunities to weave this in, but you have to be intentional about it, and you can’t assume that people will connect the dots on their own.
Michael: I think you also have to collect the transformations. I remember back when I was in the publishing business everything we sold was mediated through a retailer. In other words, we sold books to retailers. We very rarely heard from the retailers unless there was a service issue, but we didn’t hear from consumers directly. One of the great things about our business, as a consumer, and frankly, one of the things Amazon has even done for the publishing industry is that there are stories of consumer transformation out there.
It’s easy for us, as leaders, if we’re not careful, to hear those stories of transformation, maybe share them with our executive team or leadership team, and not share them with the broader team, but that’s like fuel for the organization. When people hear that, all of a sudden, in a very implicit way that’s not overt, it connects the work they’re doing to the larger mission. So I think we need to do more of that.
Maybe it would be awesome in every company to have kind of an archivist or maybe somebody on the customer experience team who’s collecting those and posting those. We’ve posted those in Slack from time to time. They’re really helpful, just a reminder to all of us of what the real work is that we’re doing. In the middle of a campaign or a promotional effort, or whatever, all of a sudden it becomes very transactional. Everybody is focused on delivering the result, and you can get disconnected from the ultimate value you’re providing if you’re not thoughtful and careful about it.
Megan: It’s so critical. When you were talking, I was thinking about how you could work these questions into your business and engage with your team around them, and I was thinking, for us, we’ve done this in a lot of ways, like I mentioned a couple of minutes ago. One idea I had that I would love to do in our own company is to have… We do a quarterly team training for our team. That’s part of how we build culture and intentionally grow our team. One of our core values is continuous growth, so that’s one of the ways we act that out.
But I was thinking this would be a great exercise to do as kind of a team-building exercise. My guess is it would probably take you about an hour to do it. You get these four questions, you get your team around a table, and you just ask everybody to answer the questions and then go around and share. I can kind of forecast in my mind what that would be like and how excited people would be at the end of that conversation, not only to connect with their own answers, which would be all by itself incredibly inspiring, but to hear how their teammates answered those questions. I think you would just leave jacked up on purpose.
Michael: I do too. It’s mutually reinforcing. Let’s do that at our next team meeting.
Megan: Yeah, I know. I love that. That could be a great idea, if you’re listening, for how to make this work in your own company.
Michael: The first question that helps your team find their why is…How do I deliver value to the customer? What’s next?
Megan: The second clarifying question is…How do you deliver value to the company? This is really about engagement with the company’s success and results. Most workers are specialists, so they can’t always see the bigger picture. Kind of like what you were saying earlier. When you’re down in the trenches, it can feel really disconnected from the bigger picture you’re trying to drive results for. How does an administrative assistant affect the bottom line? How does the scheduler help the team make their bonus?
Team members who can’t connect the dots are very inclined to disengage. They believe in the mission of the company, but they often don’t feel that their daily actions advance that mission. One of the things we’ve done a lot at Michael Hyatt & Company… In fact, we do it every quarter as a part of that quarterly team training I was talking about. We review our annual goals together. We actually do that on a weekly basis, but when we come together on a quarterly basis we set quarterly team goals. Each team is responsible to set two to three goals for the quarter that support the larger company goals we’re working toward.
The intention with that is not only to clarify priorities but to really connect the dots for people. If we have a financial goal for the year, for example, how does the finance department contribute to that? How does the content team contribute to that? How does the marketing team contribute to that? If you’re not careful, when you have financial goals…I think that’s probably the best example…the only people who have a straight line of sight to that goal are the marketing and sales teams.
Michael: I would say in addition to the financial goals, I think administrative work also needs to be connected with the larger picture.
Megan: Oh, absolutely.
Michael: One of the things I try to be explicit about in my work with Jim, my assistant, is giving the why behind the what. I think a lot of us don’t do this with executive assistants like we should. If they can understand the why behind the what, they’re more motivated to get the work done, first, but secondly, they can find solutions we haven’t even thought of.
When I explain to Jim, for example, that I need rehearsal for a conference we’re going to do and I explain to him why that’s so important and give him some kind of idea about how long that’s going to take, then he connects it to the larger picture. All of a sudden, he’s ensuring the quality of the work product we’re delivering to our clients, and he has a key role in that. It’s important.
Megan: Absolutely. We kind of think of it like some of our team members have direct influence on the goals we’re working toward, and more team members have an indirect influence on those goals, and both are critically important. Just because your connection to the goal is indirect in the way you’re driving it forward doesn’t mean it’s not important, and it’s the job of the leader to connect the dots, even more so for the people who have an indirect influence on your goals.
Michael: I was thinking of one example. When we did our Achieve conference this last fall, which was a smashing success, it would be really easy to get focused on ticket sales as a measure of success, but then you take the work of Suzie and the operations team doing all of the logistics and the branding of the event and all of the thousand and one details that went into that event.
That created an ambience, almost, as people came into the event that set them up for success, because they realized we’d thought about them and we cared for them. We put in a lot of preparation to this event. All that contributed to the overall customer value and, in turn, contributed, as we’re talking about here, to the company value. That created value for the company by them doing that. So we have to connect them to both.
Megan: Absolutely. The truth is when team members believe their efforts are vital to the team’s success they give extra effort. You get their best thinking, their greatest creativity, and that’s where the breakthroughs come from. So, the first question is…How do you add value to the customer? The second question is…How do you add value to the company? We’re ready for the third question, Dad.
Michael: The third clarifying question is…How do you deliver value to internal stakeholders?
Megan: This is really important.
Michael: It’s important, because you have to create engagement with the team, between teams. Nothing kills morale more than a turf war or company politics. This is like the natural order of things. It just happens if you’re not careful with it. One of the key ways to shift everything in your organization is when the internal teams begin to see the other teams as their customers. When they have the opposite assumption, that the other teams are there to serve them, that’s when you get into the turf wars and politics.
Megan: And entitlement, which we hate.
Michael: Like in the publishing industry, where I spent most of my career, for example, it would be really easy for the editorial people to see the sales people as there to serve them. “You need to sell our books.” But when the editorial team begins to see the sales team as their first and best customers, that they have to sell it to them, now all of a sudden they create products in a different kind of way, believing that unless they can help their customers, the sales staff, sell greater quantities of those books, they haven’t done their job.
It should work exactly the same way in reverse, where the sales team sees the editorial team as their customer. They’re delivering a product to the editorial team, which is more customers for the books they’re creating. This is really the Golden Rule of business. Treat other people like you’d like to be treated. Make everybody else the customer in your organization. We have external customers, and we also have internal customers, and we have to ask ourselves the question, “How am I adding value to my internal customers?” If I’m not doing that, then it’s going to result in siloed political environments.
Megan: I think this really comes down to how you see the purpose of the business. If you understand, for example, that the purpose of your business, in our case, is to help people win at work and succeed at life and that everything we do is an effort to that end (that’s the transformation we’re all working together to try to deliver), then more importantly than we’re on individual teams, like the marketing team or the content team or the finance team or the customer experience team, we are all on one team working together as individual pieces of the puzzle to deliver the result. This comes down to a holistic view of the business that’s more about the purpose we’re trying to deliver to our customers together than it is about any one team and being siloed with those interests.
Michael: Have you ever heard of something called the overview perspective?
Michael: Well, there’s a really interesting film that was done, about a 30-minute film that you can find if you just search Google. It basically is what happens to astronauts when they go into space and they can see the entire earth. All of a sudden, all of the disagreements, all of the wars, all of the things that separate us suddenly disappear.
Megan: Right. Like when you don’t have endless oxygen.
Michael: That’s right. But you see the whole and not just the parts. You realize we’re all living on this fragile planet.
Megan: And we need each other.
Michael: And we’re all in this together.
Megan: The opposite of that is when you find teams being siloed. Workers begin to do the minimum. They simply don’t believe their efforts will be recognized. They may feel like they’re not needed. All that stuff comes from a disconnection of purpose.
Michael: Okay. So far we have…How do you add value to the customer? That was the first clarifying question. How do you add value to the company? That was the second one. And how do you add value to internal stakeholders? Meg, what’s the last question?
Megan: The fourth clarifying question is…How do you deliver value to you and your family? This is about connecting the team member with their reward. There are really three types of rewards other than purpose itself. First is the opportunity to work in your desire zone. We define that as the place where your greatest passion meets your greatest area of proficiency. We heard this from our team members earlier.
We work hard to align new hires with their desire zone, because we really want to hire people for jobs that they’re going to love and be uniquely talented to work in that role. We don’t want to hire people who are just thinking of this as a stepping-stone or it’s just a paycheck. We want people to be excellent at their work and passionate about it.
Michael: The opposite of the desire zone in our scheme is the drudgery zone, where you’re not passionate, you’re not proficient, and it’s drudgery. It feels like a prison. This is why when you hire people into the wrong jobs and they hate their jobs… First of all, that’s a ticking time bomb. They’re only going to make trouble for the organization and for their fellow teammates if they’re not enjoying their work. So it’s critically important, it’s mission critical that we get people in their place of their desire zone. It’s best for the company and it’s best for them. They’re going to have the most job satisfaction and you’re going to create the best culture.
Megan: That’s right. The second type of reward is the financial one. Money is maybe one of the weaker motivators, but it is one of the motivators. Raises and bonuses are important. A study found that bonuses are strong motivators because the reward is uncertain.
Michael: What does that mean?
Megan: I think it means you have to work toward it. It’s a goal that’s kind of out there in the future, and there’s a gap between where you are and what it will take to get that. It’s fun to work toward something you’re not sure you’re going to get, just like any goal.
Michael: I agree.
Megan: Third is benefits that support well-being. Some examples would be generous PTO, great health care, pensions, insurance, flexible work policies. These things all take away the worry and provide for rejuvenation, which is super rewarding.
Michael: It’s a little bit like Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. When those basic survival needs are taken care of, when people don’t have to worry about “What happens if I get sick?” or “What happens when I’m tired and need some time off…?” When those basic needs are met, then they’re freer to pursue those higher-level needs…self-actualization, emotional needs, and all the rest.
Megan: It’s kind of like a seed of even greater reward, I think is what you’re saying. So back to Henry Ford. He was one of the first to see the importance of this. He established a $5-a-day minimum wage, double the going rate at the time.
Michael: It’s important to say that, because that doesn’t sound like much.
Megan: It doesn’t sound like very much, but it was a long time ago. He instituted a 40-hour workweek. He was the first major employer to do so. He started a profit-sharing program, and he knew workers had to thrive for the company to thrive. That’s really key.
Michael: It was incredibly progressive for the time, and it wasn’t because he was wanting to be altruistic. It was because he wanted to have a productive culture, he wanted to make money, he wanted to change the world, and he realized this was the best way to do this. Take care of the team, and they’ll take care of you and take care of the mission.
Megan: That’s our philosophy too, and it has worked very well.
Michael: By the way, in the magazine this week we have an article by journalist David Mark called “A Rising Tide Lifts All Boats.” It’s about how the company’s success helps everyone. There’s a link in the show notes.
Megan: So, today we’ve learned that having a strong sense of purpose drives engagement for the team and results for the company. Before we sign off, I want to remind you that it’s up to you, as the leader, to drive engagement. These clarifying questions are a great starting point for success. Dad, do you have any final thoughts for today?
Michael: I do. This whole issue of finding your why is critical. It’s important for you, as an individual, and if you’re leading a company it’s important for you to make it clear to your teammates why you do what you do. Now, it may seem like this ought to be obvious, but it’s not obvious. Sometimes one of the greatest roles we play as leaders of our company is to make what’s explicit to us explicit to others by explaining the why.
Megan: If you’ve enjoyed today’s episode you can get the show notes, including a full transcript, online at leadto.win.
Michael: Thanks again for joining us on Lead to Win. Also, please tell your friends and colleagues about it, and please subscribe on iTunes or wherever you listen to podcasts. This program is copyrighted by Michael Hyatt & Company. All rights reserved. Our producer is Nick Jaworski.
Megan: Our writers are Joel Miller and Lawrence Wilson, our recording engineer is Mike Burns, and our production assistant is Aleshia Curry.
Michael: Join us next time when we’ll offer insight on a key business problem: how to create new products that meet a need in the marketplace. Until then, lead to win.