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How Can Leaders Spark Passion in Their Employees?

If passion was a skill, or a certification, employers would have one half of the interview process taken care of. Unfortunately, passion at a former job does not necessarily mean there will be passion at one’s current job. Conversely, a lack of passion at a former job does not mean that one does not have the possibility of finding the most meaningful position they have ever had at a future job. So how can leaders spark passion in their employees?

Many companies have a mission statement that expresses their objective of offering the best customer service or the highest quality product. Whatever the objective, without a passionate employee, companies will never really attain that promise.

In seeking new employees, employers must determine if there is a shortage of talent in the market, and if the salaries they offer are competitive enough to recruit the type of passionate employees they need to grow their business. Thankfully, employers have resources they can use when selling the benefits of their companies to prospective employees.

One key tool in an employer’s toolbox to market to potential employees is word of mouth recommendations from friends, neighbors, and other employees. This is an especially successful recruitment method when one is targeting the 18 to 29-year-old demographic.

Importance of Culture

A good leader understands the importance of the culture they create in the workplace and how important that culture is for current employees as well as potential employees.

Take the case of Dan Price, founder and CEO of Gravity Payments in Seattle who recently announced that he was taking a cut in his own pay, and every employee’s starting salary would be $70,000 per year.

But, just a few weeks after the big announcement, two of Price’s “most valuable” employees quit proving that salary alone is not all that sparks a passionate employee.

A Gallup survey of employees in the United States and Canada showed that only 29 percent of those surveyed felt engaged in the workplace with 18 percent specifically reporting that they were disengaged. The survey went on to show that 26 percent of the respondents said that engagement and meaningful work was the most important factor that contributed to their job satisfaction. Based on that survey only about one third of the workforce feel engaged in their current positions.

So, how does one bridge that disconnect and create a culture of employee recognition? Creating an atmosphere that grows passion is something that can be learned and implemented by simply listening to what employees are saying.

The Need for Motivation

Disengaged employees need motivation from their leaders. Strong leaders make sure that every employee, regardless of their job title, knows how important their job is to the overall success of the business. That knowledge makes an employee proud of their contribution, and passionate about the role they play.

A strong leader also can ignite passion through open communication within their organization.

J.W. Marriott, executive chairman of Marriott International, explains this concept through an encounter with President Eisenhower. At the time, Marriott was a young student at the U.S. Navy Supply Corps School, and he asked the president a question about policy. The president asked him, “What do you think, Bill?”

Marriott says those four words are the most important for any leader to use to be successful. An employee who knows he has a voice is far more likely to find his work meaningful.

A group of people who spend 40 hours a week together are going to see each other on both good days and bad days. Most employees understand the boss has bad days, too. But, good leaders realize that the way they handle the bad days can be even more inspiring than how they handle the good ones.

In the end it is really a very simple equation, engaged employees are passionate employees. Passionate employees love coming to work. Having a passionate team who is invested as much as management is in the overall success of the business is not just a great idea to consider. It is a great necessity to create.