It is easy for me to be passionate about Roundpeg. Life at the little white house is exactly what I hoped it would be. Every day I get to do work I love surrounded by people with whom I enjoy working. Personally, I hope they will share my passion for what we do, because it’s energizing to be around passionate people. As a business owner, I count on their passion, because it’s critical to our success.
Every day, the team is visible to the business community in person, on social media and through conversations with individual clients. If they don’t share the passion, sooner or later it is obvious to everyone. My challenge is fueling that passion. Here’s how:
Encourage people to really contribute to the organization. When you hire smart people, be prepared for them to have opinions and ideas which are different from yours. If you create an environment where they can openly share their thoughts and see their ideas put into action, they are likely to be vested in the outcome. This doesn’t mean you have to agree to everything they suggest, but you need to be willing to listen and consider that you may not have the best answer.
Match people’s skills to the work you ask them to do. Every job contains a mixture of interesting tasks and tedious stuff. As you construct jobs, be sure they contain a healthy mix of both. Then hire the right person for the job. As we interview candidates, I want to hire people who really want to do that job. I watch the body language of the candidate and the words they choose after I describe an assignment. The phrase “I wouldn’t mind doing that” is a sure sign they don’t have passion for the tasks.
Robby Slaughter describes this as passion about the work when people keep their skills fresh, stay current on industry trends and are willing to invest in tools even if they aren’t being paid to do so. When you find people who have a passion for their craft, investing in conferences, continuing education programs and tools to expand their skills will make them as passionate about the company as they are about the work.
Reward their passion. There are lots of studies which say compensation is not the primary motivator as people. It may not be the primary motivator, but it is important. No matter how much people love what they do, if they can’t pay their bills or they have to work a second job to make ends meet, it is hard to stay passionate. This is a challenge for most small business owners. It is scary to invest in high salaries if your business cycles up and down. To keep people engaged, you need to be creative. Be willing to give employees a bonus when things are going well, and be open to ideas when business is off. These same smart people may have some interesting cost-saving and revenue-generating ideas to help you avoid the valleys in your business cycle.
Don’t stop at the check; offer non-cash rewards too. For many, many people, being able to adjust their schedule to spend more time with their family or longer hours to enjoy a three-day weekend is worth more than cash. If your typical office dress code is business attire, let people earn a casual Friday.
Foster relationships. People hate to disappoint those they care about. That level of commitment between team members doesn’t happen overnight. You need to build time into your routines for people to simply enjoy each other’s company, get to know each other, share common experiences. Taking a team offsite for a half day can be expensive, but it is invaluable to help accelerate the building of relationships which will make people passionate about their team members and the company.
I suppose you can run a profitable business without passion, but I wouldn’t want to. Every day, along with all the things I do for clients, part of my job is adding a little fuel to the passion flames at Roundpeg.