Thoughts on ways to improve the management of professional services firms

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Encouraging Passion

In my last post I spoke of the power of passion. Can a firm create passion? I do not think so, because passion is an individual thing. Most people simply want to do a good job, balancing work with other commitments. However, firms can certainly create an environment that will encourage passion to flower.

Yesterday a colleague and I were going through the results of a number of staff workshops. Like many such workshops, there were sheets of short staff responses. As we looked at them, I was struck by a number of common threads.

The first was the need for improved communication.

Staff felt that they were not given the information they needed to do their jobs properly. They also wanted more information about the organisation itself.

The second linked theme was the need for management improvement.

Whereas management focused on the need for staff to do things to improve staff performance, staff focused on the things that management needed to do to allow them to improve performance. These included clearer instructions, again better information, the need to give staff more authority.

The third theme was trust. Staff felt that management should place greater trust in staff to do things right. Staff also wanted to be able to trust management to protect them, to treat them fairly.

Today we live in a system intense world. We have a tendency to believe that if there is an actual or perceived problem then we need a new system to deal with it. Yet if you look at the three themes above, they are really matters of attitude and skills. Simply changing systems will have little effect.

I should note that this is not a badly managed office. But even in this case there is substantial scope for improvement.

All three themes are central, too, to the creation of passion. If you want to encourage passion, then action to improve management, communication and trust is not a bad place to start.

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