Can We Really Drive Productivity Without Love?

employee engagement energy engagement leaders purpose leadership purpose leading with a clear purpose leading with purpose love organizational purpose performance productivity profitability killers purpose purpose of leadership why do you love your job Feb 08, 2024
Why Do You Love Your Job

I’ve often heard that you can prove anything with statistics - except facts… I realize that’s something usually said in jest but I’ve also seen the same statistics used to prove contradictory points, and I won’t even get started on how many times I’ve seen scriptures used the same way! When we think about how Leading with a Clear Purpose Drives Productivity, it’s not all that different! In just the first page of results from a quick Google search on the topic, I found three separate articles sharing VERY different perspectives - two of which were from the same source!

The first one I looked at from was called The Secret Advantage is Loving Your Job from July 2014 where the author opened with this:

Arguably, one of the biggest advantages you can have over your competition is actually enjoying what you do. Loving your job is not just an added bonus to success, but actually an important precursor. If you enjoy what you do, working at it is easier, and your motivation to improve is somewhat innate, rather than forced…

The highly successful are outworking their competition. This added effort and productivity is essential. You will not reach levels of greatness if you do not work at it. Period. This work is not easy, but those who enjoy their jobs will be more motivated to put in the work.

That sure seems to connect with driving productivity if you ask me! But the next article I found from Forbes painted a different picture. This article was called Do What You Love - And Watch Your Productivity Suffer and opened with these words of caution:

"Follow your passion!" We've all heard that advice. And while it sounds like nirvana, beware! The tasks you love can destroy your productivity.

But just because you are following your passions, doesn't mean you are as productive as you should be!

That author did go on to share some steps we could take to avoid this dip in productivity, each of which would already be taken care of when we applied those three R’s I’ve referenced a few times to this point! 

The third article was from the Harvard Business Review, called Research: Your Love for Work May Alienate Your Colleagues, and advised leaders to be careful with how they rally around by sharing this:

A growing number of companies are seeking out employees whose passion for their work is the driving force behind their performance, and they’re investing in strategies to encourage and nurture this motivation. The research on this topic is clear — more passionate employees are more productive, innovative, and collaborative, and they demonstrate higher levels of commitment to their organizations. Fostering passion is a winning strategy for organizations that aspire to achieve sustained growth, innovation, and success.

However, in the pursuit of nurturing passion, our recent research reveals that employers may have overlooked and neglected the needs of employees driven by other sources of motivation, such as financial stability, social status, or familial obligations. These employees play a critical role in the success of their companies, but may be subject to an invisible penalty due to their perceived lack of passion for their work.

In a recent conversation I had with a good friend, he shared what he had written on a whiteboard just outside his office in the organization where he serves as president, “Customers will never love a company until the employees love it first!” As we discussed that, I thought of something I heard Jeff Henderson share a while back, “Employees who feel valued value their customers.”

While I understand what the author of the HBR article was getting at, I believe it’s our responsibility as leaders to help ALL of our team members identify a clear purpose they can connect with as they perform the work they do. And quite honestly, I’m convinced we won’t be able to do that effectively over the long haul without first building love into our own tasks! With that in mind, the next thing we’ll do is work through how we can clearly define the specific things we do that produce results we can LOVE. Stay tuned!