Purpose can propel your practice to new heights

Purpose is a powerful motivator.

In doing research for a series of optometric staff presentations, I came across a five-minute thought exercise that can help us define it.

First, a few points on why defining purpose is important, and what it has to do with optometry.

The latter is easy. The many optometrists I’ve had the chance to meet have all been driven by a desire to help, to heal, and to raise awareness of the importance of eye health. Many also have reasons behind their passion for optometry that are unique to them.

Unfortunately, optometric staff members don’t always feel as connected to the passion or purpose that built the practice at which they work. Employees each have their own interests and their own purpose, whether they’ve defined it or not. But these don’t necessarily overlap with their work.

This is a missed opportunity, and it leads me back to why defining purpose is important.

Companies that define and act with a sense of purpose have actually outperformed financial markets by 42%.

More than three-quarters of customers feel a stronger emotional connection to purpose-driven companies. This can lead to better customer retention and loyalty.

Research from Cone and Porter Novelli shows that consumers are very willing to buy products from a company with purpose. More than half would pay more, and two-thirds would even switch their buying habits to try a new product. (Just think of the eyewear potential.)

Having a purpose makes good business sense, but a practice powered by purpose relies on your employees buying in. After all, frontline staff typically interacts more frequently with customers than optometrists do. Your recalling, your mailouts, your customer service all need to convey your purpose for your practice to appear purpose-driven.

(By the way, a great final reason for defining your purpose: we spend a significant portion of our lives dedicated to work. If it’s connected to our values, it makes that time more meaningful, enjoyable, and more fulfilling.)

What’s your purpose?

In four simple steps, this Quartz article lays out how to get more clarity on your purpose.

True to its title, this is an exercise that can be done in five minutes. For optometrists, it’s a thoughtful way to reconnect with why you do what you do. It’s easy to lose sight of bigger goals when consumed with the day-to-day challenges of managing your practice.

For your staff, this exercise is a way to open up a conversation about what motivates them, whether they’re enjoying their work, and how the two may overlap.

It’s an area worth exploring. I’ve written before about how engaged employees are more productive, passionate and loyal. Helping employees able to engage their purpose at work helps them find more meaning from their role. It also helps optometrists execute their vision.

Check out the exercise here.

And check out my three simple steps for increasing employee engagement.