Virtually all organizations recognize that extending practical
support to employees makes for better business and an increased
bottom line. As an executive at Sage Publications, I was instrumental
in growing the company from 32 million in annual revenues
to over 100 million in about 10 years. Perhaps the most important
strategy among many that contributed to such a large increase
was a system for empowering employees to do their best work
out of loyalty and gratitude.
So what were these employees grateful for? They felt supported
not only in the work they were doing for Sage but in the fulfillment
of their purpose and in their long-term goals, even beyond
their commitment to working for Sage. In addition, I had a
feedback system in place to ensure that each employee was
getting the guidance they need to meet organizational goals
as well as personal ones.
is crucial that every employee has a clear sense of the long-term
vision of the company, so they can support that vision. It
is just as important for management to have a clear sense
of the employee’s long-term vision. This reciprocal
understanding and commitment to long-term visions and goals
creates a bond of intention between the employee and the organization.
take this a step further, I found it exceptionally motivating
to connect the purpose of the employee to the purpose or mission
of the company. This would give the employee the opportunity
to see how their unique life purpose fit in with the mission
of the organization. I would do this often in meetings by
asking my group of managers, or the entire employee base during
annual meetings, to close their eyes and become aware of their
own life purpose. I would ask them to intuit the purpose of
the organization. I might also read the company mission statement
as well. Then I would ask them to envision how their purpose
can be fulfilled through the organizational mission and how
the organizational mission could support their individual
I asked each of the managers that reported to me to connect
the long-term goals of the employee to their performance evaluations.
If an individual was interested in management, then their
leadership and people skills needed to be developed as part
of their mentoring. My direct management team all had an understanding
of each other’s purpose and visions.
I required that all managers and supervisors have regular
one-on-one meetings that lasted an hour. Some managers or
supervisors resisted this in the beginning because of the
time commitment. But the efficiency and employee loyalty that
would result from these meetings proved to be more than ample
compensation for the time investment.
the meetings, the manager or supervisor would address employee
performance and the employee would communicate what he or
she needed from management to better perform his or her job.
I would ask managers and supervisors to consistently discuss
job performance within the context of the employee’s
long-term vision and relate it to the fulfillment of his or
her purpose in relation to the team and one’s relationship
to co-workers, the team, and the larger company.
time requirement of one hour is an essential element. Once
the discussion around practical issues was over, the remainder
of the time would often bear the greatest fruit. When the
agenda is complete, employees would often share on a more
personal nature and the opportunity for greater mentoring
would come into play.
Shortly after I was promoted to director and handed two additional
departments to manage (which brought the total number of employees
under my management to 75), the manager of one of the newly
acquired departments had a conversation with another manager
who I had been supervising for about six years. The conversation
went something like this:
“So who is this Patrick Harbula and what is this stuff
about ‘growing your people’ that he is always
talking about ” Tom asked. “Is he for real? I
mean what is his angle?”
“What, you mean you don’t believe him?”
Janet replied. “I have worked with him for six years,
and I know that he is on the level. He really cares about
the people who work for him and he wants them to succeed.
Not only in business and for Sage, but in their lives as people.”
Janet told me of their conversation later. It was interesting
that the idea of someone truly interested in the well being
of his employees inspired suspicion. I found this to be true
of most employees. In the beginning they would question the
motives of a manager who truly cared about the welfare of
his employees. At the point that the employee recognized that
the concern was on the level, almost all employees would develop
a greater dedication to their job and the company.
is no greater motivator for employees than to know that their
life purpose and greatest dream for success is supported.
There is no more effective way to create loyalty and commitment
to the company and its goals. But, the most important reason
to adopt this strategy, at least in my opinion, is not to
increase the profitability of the company, but to serve the
individuals who work for it. With such an intention, the success
of the company cannot help but grow exponentially assuming
that effective bottom-line business strategies are being employed
while the increased production and creativity from staff is
harnessed and directed toward greater success.
Nearly every person who I managed directly made a point of
saying to me that as a result of what he or she had learned
from me in business, it had improved his or her life in other
areas. This is the greatest compliment a manager can receive
in my opinion. Those who I trained in this strategy have continued
to apply it at the company I work for and many more who have
gone on to other opportunities and become successful as a
result of this simple yet profound business practice.
Every business that is successful, is so because they are
fulfilling a need—serving society in some way. When
employers serve employees in the deepest ways possible, it
cannot help but exponentially increase the success of the
company. Success is always equal to the degree of need that
is fulfilled. When management deeply fulfills the needs of
employees while fulfilling a need in society, then management
is simply using time more efficiently. And the result is that
employees work harder, with greater joy and creatively to
advance the fulfillment of the company’s service.
focusing on life purpose recognize that it is not a job or
activity but an intention that can be fulfilled through any
job or vocation and at any moment in time. If you can’t
fulfill the purpose standing in line at the supermarket, then
make it more general. Once the life purpose definition has
been created it can be used as a motivation for an employee
to help others in the organization by fulfilling their purpose
while doing their job.
this way, employees will have deeper meaning, greater creativity,
and a higher degree of passion in their work. It can be periodically
reinforced to consistently fulfill one’s purpose on
the job. For example: if some kind of conflict comes up, each
employee can be asked, how would you have handled this situation
if you were fulfilling your purpose in the situation.
Use these four (five counting the Alternate question 2) to
help your partner clarify life purpose. The goal is to come
up with a concise (preferably 7 words or less), powerful definition
that can be affirmed in any moment to maximize passionate
living. Write down your partner’s answers on his or
Anyone can employee this system in management. If you are
a skilled enough facilitator and want to help those you influence
(in business, coaching, or otherwise) to deepen their understanding
of life purpose, you many use the simple formula below that
thousands of people have found invaluable for clarifying life
Question 1: What do you love to do that makes the world a
Question 2: (If the purpose is a general one that can be used
in any situation, then move on to question 3). If the answer
is an activity through which a purpose could be fulfilled,
such as “writing,” then ask: What is the most
profound experience or feeling you like someone to receive
from a conversation or any interaction with you?
Alternate question 2: What is the most profound experience,
you would like someone to receive from a conversation or any
interaction with you?
Question 3: What is the quality or guidance that you did not
receive enough of as a child that you wish you had more of,
the most important thing?
Question 4: How does it feel when you give others _____ (what
he or she didn’t get)
Life Purpose Definition: Brainstorm a short definition of
life purpose based on the answers. Then ask: Is that most
meaningful or is it more meaningful to create the experience
of ____ (what the he or she didn’t get enough of) for
others? One’s passion is found in the emotional hit.
Look for the emotional hit and use their response to formulate
the definition. Try different phrasings. The uniqueness of
wording is important.
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