Are you passionate about your job? About construction work? Pete's topic this month.

Who’s happy?

This whole emotional response thing led me down a path that you may find interesting and useful in your businesses. Have you wondered how many (if any) of your employees are emotionally engaged in your business? Do they like their work? Are they happy working for you? If you or your employees are not emotionally engaged in the business then you have people who are only rationally engaged.

A rationally engaged worker comes to work each day with an entirely different attitude than an emotionally engaged worker. If a worker thinks only rationally about hanging drywall, taping and painting, and is not connected emotionally in some way, the workers productivity and health may be affected due to discontent.

Many of us have had employees who will tell us what we want to hear but we soon learn that the employee is really not interested in the success of the company. In my opinion, this is usually due to the employees past experience with other employers who they feel have treated them unfairly. The point being is that people are emotionally driven.

If we can find ways that allow our employees and customers to connect emotionally with us, I think our businesses will be more profitable and our employees will be fully engaged.

Passion plays a big part in our personal and professional lives. Are you passionate about your work? What is your passion? For me, 25 years have passed and there is no doubt in my mind that my passion for construction has dwindled due in large part to the associated risk, as well as the dwindling level of integrity some people in construction have accepted as normal.

Wouldn’t it be nice if we could give our employees and ourselves (when no one is looking) a “passion” level test? A passion level test would indicate how engaged, excited, motivated, and inspired an employee is about his or her work. If the employee’s passion level is high your company is going to benefit from that employee. If the employee’s passion level is low, you will have minimum benefit if any.

Passion fish

Passionate people make you money. Money can temporarily make people passionate but if they are not truly passionate about their work, it won’t last. If half of your staff is passionate about his or her work and fully engaged while the other half of your staff is just working for a paycheck and you’re still making a profit, you have a fantastic opportunity. Take the disconnected half of your staff and either teach them to be passionate and fully engaged by connecting emotionally with them or replace them with passionate people. There is no doubt in my mind that profits will soar with passionate owners and employees.

The day-to-day grind of construction can sometimes take its toll on employers causing them to lose perspective. Although the word “construction” signifies the “creation” of something, the contractors’ passion for the construction business may be eroding. If the owner is not passionate how can the owner expect the employees to be passionate?

So, what’s the test? How do we tell if our employees are passionate about their work? You could start by asking them some probing questions like:

• Do you enjoy all aspects of your work?

• Do you know what is expected of you at work?

• Do you feel that you receive adequate praise for a job well done?

• Have you made a good friend at work?

• Do you feel you have an opportunity to grow with our company?

• Do you believe your opinions and ideas count?

• Do you feel you are an important person?

• Do you feel a part of the group?

• Do you feel your supervisors care about you?

A “no” response to most of these questions should indicate to you that the employee is not passionate about his or her work. Now that you’ve determined the employee’s passion level, your next challenge is to determine how you can motivate and inspire that person to be passionate about his or her work.

Some people hate their jobs and there is nothing you can do to change them. On the other hand, there are people who are not connected with their jobs because they are not connected emotionally to their employer or supervisor. In fact, some people are not connected with their fellow workers for various reasons. Some employees do their work while waiting for a shoe to drop causing them extreme anxiety. The anxiety leads to barricading one’s self in a very small work world separating them from any emotional connection.

I’m not a shrink but I do read a lot, and I can also see that my own passion or lack of passion affects the people I work with. In a small business, the owner is usually the one who has to initiate emotional connections. Sometimes, we owners get tired and we lose our passion. I’ve found that if an employee is truly passionate, it helps the owner pull out of the nosedive of despair. Passion breeds passion!

There are hundreds of ways to create emotional connections; a well-planned company picnic or fishing trip. How about a quarterly or monthly catered lunch? Most of all, I think talking creates the beginnings of an emotional connection.

Emotional connections between people are not easily broken. As well, the goals of passionate, emotionally connected people are not easily stopped. It is said that a strand of three cords is not easily broken. Connection, emotion and passion are the three strands that may make your business and personal life better than it has ever been.

In the meantime, I’m pretty passionate about getting the $30,000 in change orders I have coming.

Remember: Teamwork begins with a fair contract! W&C