We're told over and over again that in order to succeed in the workplace, do what you love. From the quotes origins with Confucius to Steve Jobs and Maya Angelou, these words have been uttered by many giants and are echoed by hundreds of business leaders. It's worked its way into popular culture too, and you don't have to watch more than the first five minutes of Dragons' Den to see an entrepreneur telling a wisely nodding Peter Jones how passionate they are about their enterprise.
But are you giving your staff the chance to get excited about their work? A good back office function is the keystone for any successful business, and your administrators and client support will control your business efficiency and productivity (not to mention your reputation with clients and customers.)
Are your staff doing what they love?
In all likelihood, it's fair to say that there will be a large chunk of your staff that work to pay their bills and support their families, not because they're passionate about what they do. Not everyone will be the star sales executive or the customer service call handler who just loves making people feel better. So what can you do to excite this group about their work? Just because it's not their biggest passion in life, you can't assume theres nothing for them to get excited about. And of course, staff who get excited about at least part of their job are less likely to leave you and more likely to work harder.
So what can you do to help ramp up excitement among your staff?
The first thing to do is to realise that you'll have to change your mindset as a leader. When you catch up with your staff, conversations can often be rushed, frantic and focussed on work. By taking the time to have a more relaxed and informal catch up with your team once a month, you'll create an environment where you can really get to grips with what makes them tick. Identifying their areas of interest within the role will let you tailor their workloads a little more, and focus on the projects that get them excited and invested in what they're doing.
Harvard Business Review put together suggested natural points in workflow to meet with your staff and ask for their reflections:
In advance of new experiences: What are you excited about for this upcoming project or initiative? What are ways you hope to develop, learn, or grow with this experience?
After key milestones: What's something you felt great about or were especially proud of on that team or project? What was especially rewarding, meaningful, or inspiring coming out of that project, initiative, or event?
At annual performance reviews: What did you most enjoy working on this past year and why? What are the types of things you'd like to get more experience in next year?
In career development conversations: What is your career aspiration over the next three to five years? How do you see this role helping you get there? What inspires you now?
Once you're armed with this information, you can start to pinpoint the elements of peoples' jobs that get them excited. By tailoring projects to suit the strengths and passions of your team members, you'll not only have a more content workforce but you'll also see productivity rise.
Leading a team to success isn't easy; but it's impossible without having dedicated and passionate staff. Find out more about how to manage your team for success in our whitepaper: Managing a Modern Day Workforce.