How do you get passionately engaged at work? Let me start by sharing with you what I think a “dis-engaged” employee looks like. FILE PIC

I have written extensively about being passionate at work. Last week, I devoted my entire column to this by citing one of the world’s most renowned celebrity chefs.

This week, I have been invited to speak with 3 multinational organisations on “employee engagement”. And, to top it off, I have another session with a leading pharmaceutical company that has got a group of doctors, for me to address on the topic of “patient-engagement”.

This term “engagement” seems to be a magic buzzword in all organisations I consult with. There’s nothing that gets the human resources department swooning more than finding that somewhat elusive engaged employee.

Managers too, often fall back on the rather nebulous term “engaged”, when they describe how they want their employees to be.

How do you get passionately engaged at work? Let me start by sharing with you what I think a “dis-engaged” employee looks like.

They complain a lot; they are experts at making excuses; rarely help their colleagues; get easily distracted; and are lackadaisical.

You see, I have learnt that engagement only comes when you combine a purposeful existence with an unwavering enthusiasm to achieve that objective.

What do you believe in, and what do you really value?

Once you get connected to purpose, you will be enthused about your work!

There seems to be a big problem in today’s workforce. Almost no one is passionate about what they do. And, I am not making this up.

In 2014, Deloitte released a comprehensive report that found 88% of employees don’t have passion for their work, and so they don’t contribute their full potential.

The report describes what a passionate worker is.

Deloitte argues that passionate workers are committed to continually achieving higher levels of performance. In the modern day business environment, companies need passionate workers because such workers can drive extreme and sustained performance improvements. This is better than the one-time performance “bump” that follows a bonus, or the implementation of a worker engagement initiative.

The report goes on to say that passionate workers have both the personal determination and a desire for learning, and improvement. This helps organisations develop the resilience needed to withstand, and grow stronger from, the continuous market challenges and disruptions they face.

From an organisational stand-point, the secret to long term sustainable success is to have passionate workers who are consistently working on large goals, and are able to think big.

As leaders, you must remember that when you are trying to reach new heights with your team, you will need everyone to be able to handle stress, and develop a growth mindset.

But, my experience is that is that many companies aren’t creating the type of environments where passionate workers can thrive. Even when they have a powerful mission and when their employees want to grow, many companies hinder that creativity.

Many Malaysian companies focus on adhering to “policies”. This is the bane of my coaching programmes. My coachees complain incessantly about not being able to explore, or try new things.

Often, processes and policies are designed to minimise risk taking, and aim to stop variances from standard procedures. But, this effectively discourages passion. Passionate workers in search of new challenges, and learning opportunities, are viewed as unpredictable, and therefore risky.

If you want passionate employees, please allow for calculated risk taking.

Now what about employees? How do you become engaged?

Remember that you only get enthusiastic when you have an interest in what you do, and a sense of eagerness to achieve what you perceive is of personal value to you.

What I see when I meet a passionate person, is someone with great strength, persistence, and focused energy. When you have this, success ensues, because you are fueled by your own enthusiasm, even when you hit the sticky patches in life.

Being enthusiastic helps you become passionate at work.

Next, be positive. It’s such a cliché, but, let me caution you. Don’t knock it. I am not talking about being mindlessly optimistic. Being positive is as much an active choice as it is a state of mind. Train your mind to recognise that even when things look dire, you can find learning lessons, and silver linings.

Finally, you need to be proactive, to be engaged and passionate.

The opposite of being proactive is being reactive. Proactive people train themselves to take full responsibility for their life. Reactive people often get affected by their physical environment. When you become proactive, you will be an “initiator” of things.

It becomes vital that you cultivate these three attributes to become engaged and passionate at work.

Remember that you can only become engaged and passionate at work when you learn to be enthusiastic, allow positivism to reign in your life, and become proactive.

Are you passionate, and purposeful at work?