As the Association sector continues to disrupt, to transform and to evolve, some of the biggest casualties are our own employees. They’re bearing the brunt of all this uncertainty, and this often translates into employee disengagement. It’s not just that a volatile working environment is unsettling, but that today’s professionals are looking for more than mere stability. They are looking for passion, not just a paycheck, and they’re calling career coaches and recruiters just like me every day - every time the board makes a new initiative, every time the CEO transitions. Even a rebranding campaign can set them on their heels.
But it doesn’t necessarily have to be this way. Particularly when your employees are highly engaged in what they’re doing, they’re much more likely to weather the storm. So I’ve come up with an exercise that I call Passiontivity. This is a tool that helps professionals to identify how they really feel about their work – and therefore ensures that all employees are contributing in the most valuable way to your Association moving forward.
The exercise consists of creating four quadrants:
The first section is high skill/high motivation. These skills are those that really engage you – where wild horses can’t drag you away from the work. Work that inspires high engagement like this is the sort that you would do regardless of the paycheck.
The second quadrant, high skill/low motivation, is “stopgap” work. These are skills you know you’re highly capable of doing, but don’t energize or motivate you. You’ll do this work and won’t complain, but there’s minimal engagement and you’d much rather delegate it to someone else.
Thirdly, we have high motivation/low skill. This sort of work is important for your professional development: you’d love to have the chance to develop these skills, which aren’t particularly honed. If you can tap into the desire to learn and grow, this sort of skillset can produce enormous amounts of innovation and inspiration.
The final section, in which falls the low skill/low motivation work, leads to active disengagement. You are neither skilled at nor excited by these tasks – it is in this quadrant where your underperformers live. Importantly, though, if they can be transitioned all the way up to the first quadrant, you’ll be amazed at the untapped talent you could unearth.
The important takeaway here is that we need to be promoting and focusing on what our employees love to do, as well as what they’re capable of. This way, we can realign roles and responsibilities so that our teams are accomplishing organizational goals with enthusiasm. If you continue to tap into those skills that really engage employees, and renegotiate the tasks that don’t, they will be more likely to weather the storm with you.
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