The more closely an employee is connected to his role (he likes what he does) and the more personally the employee is connected to his manager (has a strong relationship) the better he performs. These "connections" are the power behind all millennial performance.



Today, service is king; service events are passionate or connective events. The more passionate a customer is about a brand, product or company, the more he buys. The more passionate an employee is about his work and his manager, the better he performs. Feeling connected is the key to igniting passion; by looking at connections we see how to make the right management changes to drive performance and results.



The industrial age ended as much of manufacturing moving offshore. We now have a very different "service" economy. Managing in today's economy is not effective with industrial age command-and-control methods; today, managers must inspire and engage to create powerful connections with their employees. All performance is based on these connections.



There are many things in current management methods that need to change to ignite passionate performance and connections in today's workplace. However, no workplace likes significant change, even if the change is for the better. The process to bring about significant performance changes through a modification of management methods must be approached gradually. Too much change too quickly will send employees running and inhibit their performance instead of encourage it.



Therefore, remember the mantra of change: implement incremental changes that yield exponential results. Assess the magnitude of the change, the degree of connection and its performance impact. Most great connection ideas involve very gradual or small changes yet have significant effects on performance. Consider these five incremental changes that yield exponential results:



1. Spend time with each employee. This is critical to building personal connections. Here is a great phase worth remembering: "people quit people before they quit companies." That means when a personal connection does not exist between the manager and employee, the employee is less loyal, performs less and is less committed. Take an employee to lunch. Spend five minutes before the day starts or after the day ends just catching up. Ask questions that indicate your employee's values, interests and talents. The more you know about the employee, the stronger you can make his connection to his role. Spending time to get to know your employees is a small, simple change that yields significant results.



2. Match the employee's talents to his role. In today's intellectual workplace, employees contribute "thinking and ideas." The closer the employee's natural thinking (called talents) matches the thinking required in his role, the more capable the employee feels and the greater his contribution, effort and performance will be. To assess employee talents, access a questionnaire like Strengthsfinder 2.0 by Tom Rath, and have each employee complete the questions. This helps introduce the language of "talents" and helps all employees learn and articulate what they are intrinsically good at. The more an employee uses these talents in his role, the more passionate he becomes about performance because talents also represent areas that we enjoy. If an employee is not suited to or dislikes his role, his performance will suffer. Once known, start to realign employees to roles that are a better fit for their talents. A review of talents is a small step that yields exponential results.



3. Give the employee a problem or project to handle on his own. Now that you are aware of the employee's talents, show that you trust him or her by giving the employee a problem or project to manage, solve or complete. This encourages ownership, engagement and passionate performance, so long as the project or problem is in the employee's talent area. Besides getting the problem or project off your desk, it activates employees to step up and contribute in a more significant way. In their talent areas, employees are capable of significantly more performance than they currently offer.



4. Talk about the future. Here is a question for you: how willing are you to perform in a great way if you do not know where your job or career is going? How willing are you to commit to a company or manager if you never talk about your future? Employees watch everything; they are very connected through today's many social networks. Word gets around quickly and favorably about organizations that actively involve employees in recurring discussions about their futures. Career conversations keep employees connected to their work and to their management. Employees are given a voice in the development process. They have input in determining a meaningful future with the company that accommodates their talents and interests. Managers, who take this time, connect significantly with employees. Career development that matches the talents of the employees significantly connects employees to their work. Hosting a career conversation is an incremental change that has an exponential impact on loyalty and performance.



5. Commit to having fun. Work, for most employees, is truly a four-letter word. It doesn't have to be that way and if you want exponential performance, it can't be that way. Employees want to have fun in the workplace. Employees want to be part of high energy and dynamic environments that celebrate, build rapport...in short, connect. It takes very little resources to emotionally connect employees to their workplace by hosting lunches, theme days, fun programs, community events and other things to keep employees interested, excited and performing. A small change to having more fun at work can yield exponential results.



Make small changes - nobody likes too much change at once. But assess each of your changes and their impact on results. Today, we are in the age of "connection." Be sure to make small improvements that help connect employees to their work (brain connections) and manager/workplace (people connections). Being human (passionate) at work, is the key to performance. To be passionate, humans need connections - intellectual and emotional, mind and heart. The stronger the connections, the more employees perform. Make these incremental "connection" changes for exponential results.



Jay Forte is a speaker, consultant and nationally ranked thought leader. He applies years of research, along with his training as a CPA, working with organizations that want to successfully activate and inspire exceptional employee performance. Jay's first book, "Fire Up Your Employees and Smoke Your Competition," is due in January 2009. For information on keynotes, speaking, consulting or to see the daily "BLOGucation," visit: www.humanetricsllc.com or www.fireupyouremployees.com or call: 401-338-3505.