The one piece of career advice you need to stop giving

Working at a job that requires the least effort negates any opportunity for personal fulfillment.

By Shawn Freeman, founder of TWT Group.

"Pursue a profession that doesn't require you to think too much."

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Could there possibly be worse career advice than this? Whenever I hear people offer this misguided lesson (and yes, I have), I just shake my head. In truth, I feel sorry for them. They must not know what it's like to do work they're passionate about or to be surrounded by people who want them to reach their potential. More than likely, they've fallen into lives of mediocrity and apathy.

Working at a job that requires the least effort negates any opportunity for personal fulfillment. If you're simply counting the minutes until you can go home, you never experience the deep satisfaction that comes from hard, passionate work. Your bosses learn not to expect much from you, so they don't offer you new and interesting projects. Worst of all, you don't expect anything great from yourself.

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I know firsthand that pursuing your passions takes a lot of blood, sweat and tears. But there's no greater reward than putting your all into work that holds meaning for you. As a leader, I feel it's my duty to nurture my team members' interests and encourage their growth. The last thing I want is to see people stagnate: Not only does this hurt the company, but it erodes employees' self-confidence and zest for life.

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To avoid such burnout and complacency, my leadership team and I have created a culture that prioritizes decisive, informed action, an open-door policy so people know they can ask for help, and an environment in which everyone sees himself as an integral part of the company. Our team members understand the roles they play in our organization's future, so they take their work seriously. Here's how to achieve a similarly motivated, passionate culture in your company:

Give Workers Autonomy

Ambitious young professionals crave opportunities to make a difference. Harness that work ethic by empowering them to take ownership of their assignments. By entrusting them with meaningful projects, you prove that their contributions matter, making them more likely to stick with you long-term.

Extend autonomy to their working styles as well. Millennials in particular value work-life balance and one study found that 77 percent of young people believe flexible work arrangements boost their outputs. As long as people are performing at high levels, let them determine their schedules and work arrangements.

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Share Quarterly and Annual Goals

Meet with employees often to define and review their goals, and provide financial and logistical support when they want to develop their skills. My company uses an employee feedback tool called 15Five to check in with team members each week. This gives them a chance to reflect on their performance and share any struggles or frustrations they're having before they escalate.

Be sure to reinforce how employees' progress influences the broader picture. Millennials are especially entrepreneurially minded, and they want to know that their work has value. People who feel that they're part of a bigger mission at their companies will be less inclined to leave and start their own ventures.

Reward and Recognize

Highlight exceptional work through public recognition and rewards. We use to issue micro-bonuses to standout team members. Employees can use the platform to thank their colleagues as well. This fosters a sense of appreciation and community throughout the organization, and it encourages people to push themselves to do great work. Positive recognition drives progress, so appreciate your workers often.

To combat the "don't think too much" mentality, you must build a culture that celebrates challenges and innovation. When high performers set the status quo, unmotivated employees will either get inspired or self-select their way out of the organization. By offering autonomy and ownership, you speak to people's best natures and light the fire that makes them want to excel.

Shawn Freeman is revolutionizing the IT services model. The founder of Calgary-based TWT Group, Shawn helps businesses maximize their IT, using intuitive technology to maximize their efficiency, increase revenue and protect valuable data.

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