Posted by Kathy Follett-Lloyd,
Vice President, Human Resources, HGS Canada
Have you ever wondered what makes certain colleagues work long hours and why they seem so driven to be the best? Some will label them as overly competitive, workaholics or as having obsessive compulsive tendencies. Some may even label them as trying too hard because of insecurities or a fear of failure.
Strip away the labels that are used to place people in nice, neat boxes and you will find individuals who have a PASSION for what they do in life, both at play and, most importantly for us employers, at work.
A workforce that is driven by an intrinsic passion to be the best and to outperform the competition, whether internal or external, sets a company apart from all others. Google, Disney and Apple immediately come to mind when asked to name companies that employ a passionate workforce.
So what can we learn from colleagues and companies who are fueled by passion? We can learn how to create an environment where passion is recognized and nurtured. We can learn how to unleash an individual’s potential, a team’s potential, and a company’s potential by following some simple steps.
- Hire the Right People: An experienced recruiter can distinguish a candidate who is motivated by passion for their career from one who is motivated by other forces such as money or ego. Why does a person become a winemaker? Because they have a passion for wine! Make certain the next person you hire has a passion for the job you are considering them for.
- Establish Strong Connections During Onboarding: A person’s passion for their company grows exponentially when their employer demonstrates a passion for them. Show a new employee how vested you are in their success by forging relationships during the Onboarding period. Organize an office social to welcome the new employee and invite as many key partners and stakeholders as possible. Schedule support team information sessions with HR, IT, Finance and Sales and Marketing. Provide them with job guides, manuals and work aids as well as a Peer Mentor to guide them through their first 90 days. Most importantly, have passionate colleagues, partners and stakeholders reach out and connect with a new employee early and often.
- Reward and Recognize: Knowing our contributions are valued is a universal human need. What differentiates us from each other is the type of acknowledgement we each prefer. A diversified reward and recognition program will provide you the choices and variety you need to ensure your employees receive the right recognition. For some it’s as simple as a kind word. For others, it’s an award nomination from their manager or a gift of branded company clothing. For others it can be as extensive as a special work assignment, career advancement or the opportunity to manage a corporate wide project. Acknowledge employees’ contributions and watch them grow, prosper and ultimately perform. It’s a win-win!
- Train and Develop: There is a sense of accomplishment we all feel when we complete an educational program. Earning a degree or completing a certificate or accreditation program takes time, money, effort and focus. Employees who have a desire for continuous learning will contribute significantly to the future growth, progress and rejuvenation of your company. Provide a clearing so the employee is able to take on a program. That could mean supporting time away from the office to attend a class or a personal development session or providing the funds to pay for the program. Monitor progress and celebrate the completion by publicly acknowledging the accomplishment or certification. Lastly, show your employee that you recognize they are now more valuable. Offer to frame their certificate so they can proudly hang it in their workspace, offer business cards that include their new accreditation initials and if your payroll budget will allow, offer them a one-time increase in salary to demonstrate you are as passionate about their accomplishment as they are. It’s the gesture itself that is most important to an employee, not the size of the gesture.
Building a culture where PASSION is essential, encouraged, recognized and rewarded takes commitment and energy from all levels of a company. It takes recognition that your greatest asset is the passion your people have for their job and the company they work for. It means striving to ensure current and future employees associate your brand with innovation, research, training, development, and volunteer contributions. Most importantly it takes strong leadership and knowing that tapping into the passion that each employee has for their job will take patience, creativity, structure, and regular contributions to each employee’s emotional bank account so they trust they are safe to unleash the passion within.