Can Managers Help Keep Their Employees Passionate?

Photo via  Dave King

Photo via Dave King

In previous posts, I've mostly focused on what we can do as employees to stay passionate about our work. We can look within our jobs to focus on aspects that satisfy us or we can move to other positions, companies, or even career paths to better align our day to day lives.

For some people, there's nothing an employer can do to make their responsibilities any more meaningful to them. But for others, even small changes can make a world of difference. Here are three steps managers can take to keep their employees passionate about their work, and producing high quality work.

Ask Questions.

Managers may or may not realize how a job fits in an employee's goals for their life and the only way to find out is to ask. It could be a formal survey on an annual or semi-annual basis, or it could be a conversation during a lunch outing. Whatever it is, a time set aside every now and then to check-in with employees and ask how their jobs satisfy them is a great chance to gain some insight. Managers might be surprised to learn that the employee is planning on attending graduate school in the fall, or maybe they are looking to increase their responsibilities at work.

Take Action.

It seems like an obvious next step, but managers are busy people and can forget to act on their newfound knowledge. If an employee talks about wanting to focus on certain types of projects, make sure to actually steer some opportunities their way. Otherwise not only will they feel uninspired, they'll also feel completely ignored after having opened up.

Don't worry if the employee doesn't have the exact background to take on a new task. As long as it's something they can learn on the job, they'll take the necessary steps, simply because they're passionate about it. Nobody likes to fail at doing something they enjoy. 

Follow up.

After some time has gone by and there are a few projects that have been completed, it's time to check back with the employee and see how things went. Did the projects actually serve as an outlet for passions or did they miss the mark? Did the company benefit from having the employee work on those projects or were they ineffective? Did the employee have the resources to really dive in and get their hands dirty or was their time spent battling office politics? If the employee didn't feel passionate about the projects, it's time to try again. Either the projects weren't quite right, or the employee wasn't clear about what they were looking to work on. Either way, it's a process that can always be refined.

People who are passionate about their work go that extra mile to see that projects are completed to a high standard and take on extra responsibilities without being asked. It's in the best interests of everyone for employees to feel inspired and want to show their best work. Not every job can solely be about what employees are passionate about, not to mention some employees don't even know what they're passionate about. But if they do know, and even just a few small changes can be made to their job responsibilities, it's always a good bet to give it a try.

Do you have other suggestions for managers? Leave a comment below.

- Ryan