Passion

Most of us hope that we will find a job that makes us passionate.  A lucky few succeed at this quest and spend their workdays doing something that fulfills them on a professional as well as personal level.  Think about Steve Jobs and the aura of excitement he projected (http://www.nytimes.com/2011/10/08/business/how-steve-jobs-infused-passion-into-a-commodity.html?pagewanted=all). In most cases, passion manifests itself in two related forms: job and organization. Passion for a job determines how emotionally connected an employee is to his or her work and producing the best possible results, while passion for the organization pertains to emotional connection of the employee to the purpose, values, and vision of his or her organization.  The key to both relates to a strong emotional bond or link.

For those of us that fail to find employment in an area that we are passionate about; work affords little more than a mundane chore while we sit in a holding pattern on the way to something that makes us passionate.  The image that comes to mind is the stereotypical worker leaving an office or factory looking depleted as he or she goes home with another day of the same soul crushing work waiting tomorrow.

As leaders, we have all worked with employees that had the skills and abilities to be a star performer, but never developed the passion necessary to excel.  Early in my career, I assumed that the primary responsibility for passion resides with the workplace.  Basically,  if a person is not passionate, the failure to create that spark should be addressed by the employer.  However, what most of us discover through experience rearranges our view of how passion works.  Passion comes from inside the person.  We bring our passion with us and if the alignment between employee and job feeds the employee’s passion, then it grows.  When it comes to passion, selection overshadows training.

What can we do to increase the passion in our organizations?

  • Ensure that your organization has a clear mission and set of values;
  • Link your values to your business processes and desired outcomes;
  • Communicate about the organization’s passion;
  • Reward employees that show passion and results;
  • Find other opportunities for those that are unhappy;
  • Allow people to grow how they want to while meeting the organization’s needs;
  • Hire for passion and commitment to your mission and similarities in values; and
  • Take a chance on a candidate that excels at passion even if they fail to possess the ideal level of experience or education.
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