Power of Purpose - June 2019

What makes a life worth living?

What makes a job worth doing?

What makes a share plan worth joining?

The answer to all of these questions is this: a clear, inspiring articulation of its purpose, and secondly, the means or process by which to put it into practice.

Very few of us were born knowing our purpose in life or even in work. If, like me, you suffered the curse of being an all-rounder at school (no particularly weak or outstanding subjects, reliable work ethic) then that can make it even harder to find something to truly excel at. At various points I wanted to be a vet, fashion designer, novelist and teacher, all of which require a sustained focus on acquiring particular specialist skills and knowledge, to the exclusion of others. It was a happy and lucky accident for me when I discovered share plans in my twenties.

Share plans is a good home for many people with different and specific strengths, including those that do excel in a particular area, accounting perhaps, or communication or legal compliance, project management even. I discovered that it is a great home for all-rounders, especially when practised in-house. In running a share plan effectively you will need to influence and gain support and involvement from many different business functions – HR, finance, legal or company secretariat, internal communications, treasury – and from your colleagues as eligible participants and your senior executives as recipients of discretionary plan awards.

One of my aims at ProShare is to help people identify and choose the share plans industry for their careers – happy accidents like mine and many others’ are all well and good, but a sustainable pipeline of knowledgeable, qualified and motivated talent will fuel our industry for years to come, in a rapidly changing and disruptive world. This is one of the reasons why ProShare evangelises about employee share ownership – people on the fringes of our industry and beyond need to hear our message and be inspired by the idea that everyone can afford to own a part of the company they work for. Their labour helps create its success, and they should share in that success.

As all-rounders tend to enjoy and need variety in their lives, the ever-changing regulatory backdrop of share plans – whether in the UK or globally – can provide a satisfying degree of challenge too. Technology is moving and evolving faster than ever before, and increasingly influences how we administer our share plans and indeed, how employees join and participate in share plans.

It can be all too easy to lose ourselves in the process and forget about purpose – this applies as equally to life as it does to work, and to share plans too.

Without purpose, process becomes a deadening treadmill, a joyless to-do list of actions without motive.

Without process, purpose is simply a wish unfulfilled.