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Friday, April 16, 2010

Fanning the Flames of Passion In Your Workforce

Passion for work can be elusive and difficult to quantify. However, as it pertains to the next generation of employees, passion is a huge and undeniable component of what makes them committed and engaged. It is also what inspires the creativity and innovation that is their hallmark.

The next generation of employees insists on feeling passionate about what they do. It has high expectations for work that has meaning and value, work that provides them with developmental and learning experiences. Not content to perform tasks and follow orders, they want to be fully participating and making a difference in an open and dynamic environment – signaling a significant culture shift in how and why we work.

How organizations acknowledge this shift, address the needs of this segment of the workforce, and inspire passion will be what differentiates the winners from the losers. It’s poor business sense, if not professional suicide, to neglect to tap the potential of these creative young people. An organization unwilling to adapt will not be able to succeed; put simply, stagnation equals death. Without the sort of passion — in part defined by the sheer potential for creative and innovative ideas and solutions — endemic to the next generation of employees, businesses are destined to wither and die.

This generation expects to be challenged, to have its horizons broadened at every opportunity. Leaders need to supply these opportunities, to set these personally and professionally enriching challenges. This means that leaders also need to be vigilant about recognizing a person’s unique talent and rewarding a job well done, whether via formal performance evaluations or more informal conversations acknowledging meaningful contributions. Finally, leaders need to do just that: lead by example. The next generation of employees takes its prospective company’s values to heart. It scorns insincerity and won’t tolerate hypocrisy of any kind. Therefore, leaders must be prepared to “walk the talk” if they expect the next generation of employees to loyally and proudly — and passionately — follow.

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