My business is not sexy. How do I ignite passion in my staff?

Aunty B,

I keep reading in SmartCompany about passion and how important it is in a company.

But I run a small cleaning business and I find that while my staff are diligent, they are not passionate (I think.)

What is passion and how do I get my staff to feel it?

Craig R,



Great question Craig. And the fact that you asked means you know the problem lies with you.

True passion comes from one source: The vision, values and culture of the company – which you set. You can incentivise with bonuses, salaries and equity all you like, but true passion does not come with that.


Now if I ask you your values and culture, you might reply, “to be the best cleaning company in northern Sydney”. That would not be enough to inspire passion in me if I worked for you.


But what if you look at the bigger picture? What is it that your company stands for? What contribution is your company making that is valuable and worthwhile?


I know an entrepreneur who runs a venue cleaning business. When a new staff member begins on the first morning, they watch a video.


There is nothing on the video about cleaning. Instead it is about the venues, the events that take place in the venues and their important place in the life of all Australians.


By the end of the video, you are in no doubt that without the contribution of this cleaning company, the fabric of Australian life as we know it would be torn asunder. And at its epicentre are the heroes – the employees of the cleaning company.


That’s just the beginning. The entrepreneur then meets with staff personally to further explain the vision. He then introduces the new staff member to their mentor and on it goes.


There is heaps of feedback, lots of events and celebrations. And the entrepreneur is often onsite picking up rubbish himself before celebrating with his team when they finish at 3am.

So Craig, have a close look at your company. What are your staff really good at? What do they really enjoy doing? Can you expand into any new areas that might grow your vision for the company and refresh your employees view of the business?

Can you present the business in a new way? Are there any figures that paint a better/different picture of your company that you could present? Are there any awards you can enter to reinforce to staff that you and they are winners? Can you do some community events to also reinforce the great things your company does for the community?


How can you tell passion? You walk in the door of an office and you feel it in the air. You call the office and you feel it over the phone line. It really is that obvious and it is easy to tell if it is phoney.

Maybe Craig, you could start off having a strategy day – offsite with staff. Get some butcher’s paper, blue tack it to the wall and get the staff talking about your business, its contribution and where it’s going. That could be a good start.



Aunty B - Your problems answered by SmartCompany's business bitch
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