5 Keys to a Passionate Workforce

Every organization has the potential for world-changing impact.

If you’re interested in joining the ranks of those who have achieved such significant market influence, you’ll need an ambitious goal that transcends the bottom line, and your leaders must foster passion for that goal, and keep that passion alive by reinforcing it every single day.

Simply defining a noble goal or purpose isn’t enough – you’ll also need the best and brightest talent to bring your goals to life.

Passion is key

Talent of this caliber wants to be passionate about what they do, and they want to be surrounded by other employees who are also passionate about what they do.

A passionate, engaged employee is someone who pays attention to the company’s strategies and tactics; who’s involved and curious and who constantly questions what the company is doing and how their own role is contributing to the organization’s success. And they do this not because someone ordered them to, but because they want to.

Engaged employees will choose to work with you because they want to feel like they’re changing the world for the better. If the workforce believes in and is passionate about your corporate purpose, has the tools they need to do their work well, and is engaged in what you’re collecting trying to accomplish, then they’ll most likely deliver stellar results.

Fueling great performance

Here are five ways to foster the kind of passion that fuels great performance and awesome results, adapted from The Open Organization: Igniting Passion and Performance by Jim Whitehurst.

1. Let people show their emotions

We often use the term ‘emotional’ as if it’s a bad word, especially when it comes to the workplace. But inspiration, enthusiasm, motivation, and excitement are emotions too. If you ask your team to check their emotions (both the good and the bad) at the door, you can’t tap into their passion.

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2. Hire passionate people

One way to get passionate people into your organization is to rely on those who already work there to refer people they want to work with. Create a flexible incentive program that rewards employees for bringing in candidates who are a perfect fit for your company culture.

3. Fan the flames

Find ways to share and celebrate the passion of your team. Augment your company newsletter by shooting videos of your staff in action or find opportunities to throw culture-inspired parties to celebrate your joint accomplishments.

4. Don’t sedate your rock stars

Give your employees the autonomy to do the work that interests them. Then watch what happens when they put their energy and talent fully into their role.

5. Share context

Most companies have a stated corporate purpose or mission statement. Unfortunately, these are rarely-used words that do little to drive purpose or passion within the company. Leaders’ jobs are to create context by connecting employees’ job functions to the organization’s broader mission – why you do what you do. When you can make the connection between passion and mission, you can truly propel your organization to a new level of performance.

This post originally appeared in a somewhat different form on OCTanner.com.

Named as one of the Ten Best and Brightest Women in the incentive industry and to the Employee Engagement Power 100 list, a Change Maker, Top Idea Maven, and President’s Award winner, Michelle is a highly accomplished international speaker, author, and strategist on performance improvement. A respected authority on leadership, workplace culture, talent and employee engagement, she’s a trusted advisor to many of the world’s most successful organizations and the governments of the United Kingdom and the United States.

Michelle speaks and writes about what she knows first-hand – as a former executive of a Fortune 100 global conglomerate, and as a researcher and strategist. She passionately shares new insights and tools for leaders to confidently, effectively and strategically lead their organizations to success.

Michelle is the Past President of the FORUM for People Performance at Northwestern University and President Emeritus of the Incentive Marketing Association. Michelle was the Founder and Chair of the Editorial Board of Return on Performance Magazine, and has been featured on Fox Television, the BBC, in Fortune, Business Week, Inc. and other global publications, and contributed to the books Bull Market by Seth Godin, Contented Cows Still Give Better Milk, and Social Media Isn’t Social.   

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/michelle-m-smith-cpim-crp



1 Comment on “5 Keys to a Passionate Workforce

  1. Thank you, Michelle.

    A brief letter to organizations that seek “passionate” employees:


    Dear Passionate Employee-Seeking Company,

    As my potential employer, you have a right to (and pay me for) my mind and my body/physical presence (if I am onsite). How DARE you presume to think you have a right to my heart and soul? These are reserved for my loved ones, friends, and my life. You are not my life- you are my livelihood. YOUR passion (and loyalty) is for the short-term bottom-line, and not to my colleagues and me. Despite all you say, in your eyes we are completely fungible, easily-replaceable “human resources” to
    be used and tossed out whenever you please, and not autonomous, mature individuals to be respected and valued. You say your organization is different, that you “walk the talk,” that you REALLY CARE. That’s what many of you say, and some of you even believe it. (Those are the ones that REALLY break your hearts.) Consequently, my colleagues and I will “unleash our Inner CEOs”: we will go for as much money, benefits, experience, training, connections, etc. as we can get, always keep an eye on the way out, and head through it when WE get all we can from YOU, or before it all comes crashing down. In the meantime, we’ll save our passion for those people and things that deserve it, and not for you and your kind. If you want anything approaching “passion” (such as: “loyalty”), you’ll have to EARN it from us- consistently and over a pretty long period of time, and frankly, you and we know we probably won’t be here very long….


    Keith Halperin

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