Anyone who has ever met me in person will tell you that I’m a big believer in enthusiasm. I see this word frequently in job postings, and from my conversations with employers, I’ve come to the conclusion that it is the number one thing employers look for in their applicants. But what does enthusiasm translate into on the job?
One business Owner/Manager I spoke with recently put it this way: “No one is going to want this company to succeed as much as I do, but I want employees who come close.” It’s what they do or don’t do when I’m not watching that separates the great employees from the average ones.”
When I was speaking with him about enthusiasm and asking him how significant it was to his business, he suddenly said, “Let me show you what I mean.” He left one of his employees in charge while we exited his store. We walked up the center concourse of the mall and looked in from our vantage point on several stores. He pointed out two employees in one store who had no customers at the moment. These employees were at the check-out talking to each other, their bodies turned sideways to face one another, and one of the two was actually sitting on top of the counter. He said to me, “Neither is a great employee and as an observer, my initial impression is that their conversation is of more importance to them than the business. There’s always something to be done, and those two are bleeding the business. They aren’t invested in its success nor do they have a high level of enthusiasm.
In another store that we looked in on, there was one Salesperson who was speaking with shoppers at the entrance to the store. She was folding clothing and engaged those passing by with a friendly smile and a, “Good morning, how are you today?” He stopped us far enough away from the woman where we couldn’t be overheard and said, “See her? She’s taking the initiative to tidy up without being told to because she recognizes there are things to be done. However, she hasn’t lost sight of the fact that customers are her number one priority, and her smile and small talk acknowledge people, show she’s ready to serve and she looks like she genuinely likes her job. Her enthusiasm is an indication they’ll have a positive interaction and a great experience. Oh and look, she’s drawn someone in who it appears was passing by.”
When we returned to his store location, he sent me on ahead and stayed out of eyesight and asked me to observe his own employees. When I looked in on his staff, I certainly didn’t see staff standing idly and chatting. I saw four staff; two were helping customers, one was checking out a third, and the fourth was replenishing inventory. All four however had another thing in common besides being busy; they all had smiles on their faces and looked like they enjoyed what they were doing at the moment. Not lost on me was that he needed these 4 people as they were busy. Could it be because people were attracted by the expectation of a positive experience with attentive, enthusiastic employees?
Of course the retail sector isn’t the only place one’s enthusiasm can be seen. No matter what the work environment is, enthusiastic employees find ways to make their jobs more meaningful by themselves going about their work with investment. Some people throw themselves into a new job with enthusiasm – and it lasts right up until they pass probation! Then somehow the passion for the job wanes and the job becomes…well…a job. Each day is viewed like some kind of drudgery between the release of Friday at quitting time and Monday when the person is chained to their job for another 5 days. If this is your experience, is this really how you want to live your life? The best thing that could happen might be that you get fired and focus yourself in on getting a job with a better personal fit.
Employer’s value enthusiasm because of what enthusiasm entails. If you’re enthusiastic, you’ll arrive at work with a positive attitude. You’ll be a nicer person to work with as a co-worker and you’ll actually care about the quality of your work each day. Enthusiastic employees look for ways to do things differently, better, quicker and are open to innovation and creativity. In short, enthusiastic workers go about their work with personal pride in both the services and products they provide.
Genuine enthusiasm is hard to beat. You might counter with the argument that, “it’s hard to get all that enthusiastic about minimum wage; so pay me more and you’ll see some enthusiasm.” It doesn’t start with a higher wage; in fact money is a poor motivator if you are trying to sustain enthusiasm. Genuine enthusiasm starts with people first. Find people who are willing to engage and invest themselves in the work to be done with enthusiasm and the rewards will come.
So my advice to you who are looking for work is to communicate your enthusiasm to potential employers. Do some real research to find the right fit, be open and hungry to learn new skills, look happy and act interested. In short, go about your job with enthusiasm or find a new one.