(Programming Note: We are going to dedicate a series of blog posts in June to exploring how to build a corporate culture that sustains and renews the passion that launched the company, and is so necessary to sustain high levels of productivity.)
How do you keep passion at the core of your business as it grows? The bigger you get, the farther from the original source of passion each new employee starts. Enduring passion for our work must come from within each of us, of course, but companies can work harder at igniting that passion by building a better engagement culture.
We work with large organizations that really want to emulate the cohesiveness and energy that small companies often have. The key is capturing that original passion for the business that founders and long-time employees still have, but that newer hires may not share. This challenge also apply to any team leader trying to fully engage and energize his or her employees. Here are a few thoughts that can get you started:
- Be inclusive: Find ways to make a new hire part of the club quickly, feeling just as valued as that first person you hired who is still your close professional companion.
- Stay connected: Schedule reviews as often as weekly. Make skip-level interactions and 360-degree reviews a regular feature of performance assessment. Give access to senior leaders to multiple levels of employee, to the benefit of both parties.
- Share knowledge: Set a very low bar on “need to know.” Everyone needs to know what corporate goals are, where obstacles lurk, how and why people are rewarded, among other things. Employees do not take ownership of tasks and projects unless they see how their work fits into the corporate whole.
- Be equitable: Fewer preferences for time served! Or, at least, make those preferences performance as well as time-based. Avoid low-value rewards: The “company catalogue” of branded items cannot be the core of your veteran employee reward program. Get creative with what you use to recognize effort and longevity (or better, call them “current productivity” and “long-term productivity”)
- Find the time (and a system) to properly recognize and reward employee contributions as you go along. Do that consistently, and the need to mark anniversaries with some small token of your esteem falls away.
We are just scratching the surface here, but the point is passion does not pass from employee to employee automatically. Infusing your organization with the passion you feel about your work requires a strong hiring process, a consistent managerial training process, and a leadership mindset embedded at all levels of management that keeps engagement as the core of everything you do.
Accomplishing this is hard work, but if you make it the hardest thing you work on every day, you will see huge gains in employee passion, energy and focus, and therefore in productivity.