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How to Get Your Team Fired Up? Tap Into Their Passion, Get Them Connected — Or Else

— by Jay Forte

Business goals

Face it — the workplace is changing. And getting the most out of your best people is directly tied to one crucial ingredient: employee work passion. The more passionate an employee is about her work, the more significant her commitment, contribution and ultimately performance.

Makes sense — unless you start reading how HR leaders are talking about this stuff. Case in point: Here is the definition of “employee work passion” as presented recently in Chief Learning Officer magazine, in a piece called “Employee Work Passion: A New Look At Engagement,” by Drea Zigarmi, Dobie Houson, Jim Diehl and Davit Witt: “Employee work passion is an individual’s persistent, emotionally positive, meaning-based state of well-being, stemming from continuous, recurring cognitive  and affective appraisals of various job and organizational situations, which results in consistent, constructive work intentions and behaviors.”

Clear? Yeah, me either. This is my challenge when academics start to define things for those of us who need to live it day to day. I know this is critically important to impacting sustainable performance but if I tried to explain that to any of my clients, the conversation would be over before it started. The topic is important; the concept is too complex to win others into its thinking and to building a plan to implement it.

So here is what employee work passion means in my terms — the degree to which the employee is connected to his work, its purpose and his team. The greater the connection, the greater the degree of employee work passion. And knowing this, allows us the ability to build a plan around its three components. Using the other definition, I have a difficult time translating it into a meaningful assessment or implementation plan.

Activating employee work passion is all about connection — and there are three ways to get it going:

Get intellectually connected

The employee must be intellectually connected to his work – she is good at it. This encourages her to feel capable and competent – required if he is to build an intrinsic connection to his work. To connect employees intellectually, hire the right employee by the use of talent-assessments, talent-based interviews and a clear definition of the talents and experience needed to be successful in the role.

Get personally connected

The employee must be personally connected to his work – she must have a successful relationship with her manager and his teammates. This encourages intrinsic loyalty. Improve the personal connection by increasing the amount and quality of performance feedback and begin career development discussions.

Get emotionally connected

The employee must be emotionally connected to her work – she must like what she does or many aspects of what she does. This encourages greater satisfaction and enjoyment in her job – what we love to do we want to do more of. Improve the emotional connection by implement job sculpting and creating performance expectations that customize each job for the employee’s particular passions, interests and values.

Employee work passion is indeed critical. So, yes the authors of the article are right – employee work passion does relate to an employee’s “persistent, emotionally positive and meaning-based state of well being.” But a more practical way to view it is the level of connection an employee feels to his job. Improve this connection and the level of passion increases. How connected are your employees? You may want to find out.

More about employee training and retention on the Mindflash blog.

Performance consultant, speaker and workplace coach Jay Forte works with management, women’s organizations and individuals to maximize personal and professional performance. As president of Humanetrics, LLC, Forte provides talent-based hiring and management training to create high-productivity workplaces.

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