Get the Basics Right – Restoring Passion in the Workplace

Imagine a crew team out on a river where three people are rowing their hearts out, five are taking in the scenery, and two are trying to sink the boat. That is indeed a very real picture of the state of the American workplace.  The problem is that it has not changed very much over the past twenty years.  It’s tough to conceive how businesses can thrive when so few people are working to move it forward. Once again, Gallup researchers have interviewed over 190,000 workers, including people in all states and industries, and discovered that a stunning number of these employees are miserable in their jobs. More specifically, only 33% of the nation’s working population today admits to being fully engaged at work, 51% of Americans admit to being disengaged in their jobs, and another 16% to being actively disengaged.  

For more information on Gallup’s latest survey, click here.

Most concerned leaders agree that passionate focus and engagement is the key to maximizing workplace performance.  Numerous studies have shown that engaged workers display more initiative, approach work more passionately, and essentially do all they can for their organizations. 

So, what are some effective ways to introduce such passion back into the workplace?

1. We must build “Differentiated Leaders” – Several studies in recent years have shown that a remarkable number of people believe they work for a “bad boss.” As evidence of how deeply this affects engagement, 35% of U.S. workers polled by Parade magazine last summer said they would willingly forgo a substantial pay raise in exchange for seeing their direct supervisor fired. What are the qualities of leaders that businesses must now be seeking? 

The most effective leaders are results-oriented but also authentically concerned about the development of every person – both personally and professionally. They are genuinely caring and capable of seeing, supporting, and adjusting to the differences in people. 

When your leaders are not passionate, your team suffers. Read more about the influence of leadership in our blog post!

Most of the time, companies think they can just hire such a person.  Unfortunately, these leaders must be developed.  This maturation process has been neglected by most companies but is increasingly getting attention.  Executive mentoring teaches emerging leaders that the more they do for their people, the better their organization will become. 

2. We must organize by individual strengths – It is essential to leverage individual uniqueness and get people into the right job. Too often, employees are assigned work to which they are neither well-suited nor emotionally connected. We must make sure to get people synchronized with the right job so they can be efficient, effective, and fulfilled. We should keep the words of author Brian Tracy in mind every time we have a position to fill: “The single greatest mistake a manager can make is a bad hire.”

3. We must be aware – Know your people well and provide everything they need to do their job. Practice noticing the little things. When employees don’t have the equipment, support, or knowledge to do their jobs effectively, they quickly conclude their organization isn’t paying attention to them. They begin to feel ANONYMOUS, which is the first step toward disengagement. Once people start to feel that their work isn’t important, or that they’re not personally valued, they head down a slippery slope of passionless survival.  Remember: every little thing matters – a lot.

4. We must eliminate irrelevance – Gallup finds that only half of people surveyed have clarity on what is expected of them, which causes enormous frustration. Many organizations forget about this and do further damage by failing to communicate changes effectively. It comes down to showing people how their work and contributions impact the success of the entire firm. A connection must be made between the organizational goals and each person’s part toward accomplishing that end.  People will begin to feel IRRELEVANT unless this connection is made, which causes passion to slip further away.

5. We must consistently provide praise and recognition – A human being’s greatest needs are to feel a sense of significance and security. One key reason why so many workers are disengaged is they feel their contributions and efforts are often overlooked or taken for granted.  Organizations have become very adept at generating metrics for nearly everything.  But at the same time, individuals are measuring the amount of positive recognition, or lack thereof, more frequently than we might think.  Recognizing anniversaries and birthdays are standard expectations.  Winning organizations and leaders do more. Great Leaders are aware of what their people do.  They notice and recognize the little things.  MEASURE that! It matters.

Because really, if your team is not passionate, they are not effective. If we want to do a better job of introducing passion back into the workplace, we just need to adjust our AIM.  Remember the following simple words:

  • Anonymity – Ensure that you know your people and the things important to them.

  • Irrelevance – Connect each person’s job, in some way, to their personal mission in life.

  • Measurement – Along with other metrics, keep track of moments of positive recognition for each person.  It matters more than you think.  Good intentions are not enough!

For more on how DREAM4 can impact your organizational engagement and leadership development, contact us!

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