#157 – Is the Talk about Igniting Employee Passion A Myth?

” DMTGP” Deliver More Through Great People : This was a slogan for a Great Employer I worked for, for over 20 years. It had received European Best Employer Awards and not just in Europe it followed the ‘Investors in People’ Standard in countries like India as well. More and more Companies are these days trying to PMWFE “Produce More With Fewer Employees” since the great recession, much has been written and studied on employee passion in recent years. Research has shown that engaged, passionate employees are more productive than those who aren’t. Yet the population of engaged employees is still less than 30%. When we Google the words “Employee Passion” we get over 22 million results.
  • Ken Blanchard and his team, I believe, have led the way in this area of research and knowledge.
  • Yet, with so much content on passionate employees, what are leaders not understanding since most employees are far from passionate about the work they perform?
Two Myths :
1.One Process for All – Or One Size Fits All approach well rooted in Laziness and inertia to look for the Right Process/ Right Approach.
  • It is observed, when working with leaders in the area of employee engagement, most of them look at employee passion, or engagement, as a process.
  • The process often includes providing: purpose, meaningful work, growth and development, relationship with manager etc.
  • But, employees don’t become passionate because of an employee engagement formula a leader uses. We are all individuals. In fact there are over 7 billion of us, and what creates passion for me probably will not create passion for you.
  • As a leader, we first need to understand your employee. We need to understand their strengths and challenges, skills, knowledge, and values before we can ever hope to influence their passion. So start our understanding by having monthly 1-1 meetings with each of your team members.
  • Take time right now and schedule 60 minutes with team members for this month. Better yet, schedule out six months in advance and make the time sacred. This time is for the employee, not for us. It is a time to show our commitment to learning more about each of them and how we can help them to reach their full potential through a development conversation. In addition to having these meetings, if we haven’t already done so, adopt an assessment tool that we can use to understand each other’s preferences and strengths.
2. Leaders Drive Passion –
  • A portion of employee passion is not about what a leader does, says or acts. A leader can’t “make” an employee passionate.
  • Employee passion is a partnership between leader and employee. And there are some people in this world who are just not “built” for passion. We call these people “Eeyore”, the gloomy donkey from Winnie-the-Pooh.
  • Leaders need to bring the right people onto their team who are already passionate or have the potential to be passionate and they also need to prune those who don’t have the capacity to be a passionate employee.
  • And the pruning part can be difficult because you might have a very skilled and knowledgeable employee on your team, yet their behaviors demonstrate disengagement on a consistent basis.”
So what can leaders do to influence and impact those who do have the capacity to be passionate?
  1. Make sure that each employee is in the right position that leverages their strengths and loves. Leaders often misinterpret an employee’s strengths as also a love of the strength.
  2. Be there and be present. When employees know they have the support of their leader, that their leader recognizes the value they bring to the organization, and will spend the time to aid in their success, passion is just a matter of time. And when an employee demonstrates passion at work, recognize and celebrate it. Remember that recognition, and celebration should be individualized as we discussed earlier.
  3. Show your passion. As a leader, you can’t expect other to be passionate about what they do unless you are modeling your own passionate behavior.
Leaders always need to be striving towards employee passion for everyone, but they need to remember that
1. Employee passion is individual,
2. Not all employees are wired to be passionate, and
3. Igniting Employee passion is the responsibility of both the employee and the leader.
To be engaged passionately at work, what do Employees Need:
  1. Sense of Purpose – Need to Contribute – Bridge between Present and Future
  2. Work they feel is worth doing
  3. Autonomy or Lack of ‘SnooperVision’
  4. Collaborative Teams
  5. Growth Opportunities
  6. Fairness Treatment
  7. Appreciation – Recognition and Applause for Good Work Done
  8. Connected and Helpful Colleagues
  9. Intimacy – Connected Leaders – Rituals – Feeling Special
  10. Sense of Gratitude by Leaders for whom they Feel, They Work.