Passion is a good thing.
During the 37 years at the helm of Micrel, we fired up our employees with plenty of passion – for their work, our industry, even for their community. Passionate employees and passionate leaders make unstoppable teams.
But passion can create stress. There are good stresses, such as the competitive drive that propels Silicon Valley. But there is bad stress as well, such as worry, doubt and burnout. Leaders need to stoke the fires of employee passion without burning those employees to a cinder. The goal is to have the right amount of passion without overstressing the team.
Three elements make this possible: attitude, clarity and consideration.
Ever meet someone who greeted you with an authentic smile, and you instantly liked them? How about the fellow you met who sounded angry and who frowned? They might have been equally capable people, but you instantly knew whom you were willing to spend time with.
That’s attitude. The attitude leaders portray to their employees makes the same difference. And it isn’t just the pleasantries – it is the appreciation. Ask an employee to do better than their best and then show them no appreciation, and you will soon be hiring their replacement. But to authentically appreciate their work, to show gratitude with more than mere bonus checks – you may have to convince that same employee to retire from your company someday.
Clarity is another factor. People dislike ambiguity and doubt. Being clear about your appreciation of their efforts is one form of clarity. So is the constant communication about your market strategy, your interdepartmental efforts, your new product lines, your financials. At Micrel, we held regular staff meetings that incorporated displays of appreciation, updates on critical issues, and ended with uplifting motivational talks. We also held quarterly communication meetings with the entire company so that every employee knew what was going on at the company. Having regular communication meetings helped them to feel connected to the company and to one another. To top off all this, my staff and I would walk around, visiting with every team and every employee on a regular basis. We took the time to learn their interests and concerns, for them and their families.
We worked very hard at Micrel, but never allowed this to disrupt life. Though we told our employees that Micrel was an extension of their home, we never forced working long hours. Having time for family and personal things helps every employee, and in return it helps them continue to feel passion without stress.
Are you still passionate about your spouse? If so, I suspect you provide them with an uplifting attitude, give them clarity about your thoughts, needs and concerns, and offer them every consideration. Why not treat your employees just as graciously?