Why does having shared purpose matter?

When members in a team share the same purpose, that team transform into a more effective, cohesive and high-performing unit.   

Medium

Shared purpose is the foundation upon which successful teams are built, which then leads to improved relationships, higher trust, greater creativity, better decision making.

OUR PURPOSE IS TO ENSURE THE PEOPLE AND PLACE OF ABERDEEN PROSPER

Together with our Community Planning Partners – our promise is to make things better for the people and place of Aberdeen.  

Whether you are a catering assistant, an accountant, a housing officer or a senior leader, we are all working towards the same purpose.  

Understanding our shared purpose connects us to the bigger picture – and to each other – and frees us to be more innovative and creative in the way we work. 

So what is your team’s purpose?  And how does it fit into the wider purpose?  How clear is that purpose?  If you were to ask these questions of everyone in your team – would they say the same thing? 

Take time with your team to explore, define and agree your team’s over-arching purpose. Investing this time will mean that everyone is moving in the same direction, knows how you add value to the city and can focus their time and effort on the outcomes that matter. 

Activities for developing shared purpose with your team

Objectives:

  1. To create a shared vision for where the team is trying to get to

Materials Required:

Paper and pens.

Time:

45 minutes.

Instructions

Ask team members to work in pairs threes to write a ‘headline’ which will appear in a newspaper or professional journal in one year’s time. This headline will:

Describe something the team has achieved during that year

  • Be a maximum of 12 words
  • Be something that all team members would be proud to see in print
  • Be relevant to what the team exists to do

Ask pairs or small groups to write their headline on a piece of flip chart paper along with the name of the newspaper or professional journal in which the headline will appear.

Invite each group in turn to pronounce their headline with pride and fix the flip chart to the wall.

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Purpose Statement Checklist

Once you’ve developed your purpose statement with your team, test it against the good practice checklist below to make sure that it’s as simple and effective as possible.

Is the purpose of your team different from any other team in the council? 

Is it easily understandable by your wider community – customers, colleagues, stakeholders and partners? 

Could team members explain your purpose easily in different settings? 

Do all team members feel really excited and inspired by it? 

Can all team members see how it links to our wider shared vision and purpose? How does it link to the purpose of other teams in your cluster or function? How can you make it as visible as possible? 

Is everyone bought into the purpose and committed to achieving it? 

As the needs of the city evolve and your team develops, it’s important your purpose statement also evolves so that it remains relevant. Take time in your team meetings for regular review and discussion, particularly during times of change, to make sure it still ticks all the above boxes. For ideas on holding focused and empowering team meetings, check out the Practical Tools for Teams page. 


Once you’ve clarified and agreed your over-arching purpose, the next team task is to agree the objectives and priorities which will deliver that purpose …
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