The Passion Formula for Organizations
It is extremely rare to find a subject matter expert who is not enthused about his/her domain area
Do what you love and you’ll be happy at work’, may be the most common career advice, but is nothing more than a mirage.
For every person who could convert his/her passion into gains, there are thousands who suffer from endless job swapping and work disengagement. Many never really find their ‘true calling’ and even if they do, making a decent living out of it is a pipedream in most cases. The key lies in reversing the paradigm – instead of ‘doing what you love’, it makes much more sense to ‘love what you do’. Better put people should learn to love what they do. How can we make employees learn to love their job? The question is most fascinating to HR professionals like me. Is there a way to develop passion in our employees?
Fortune’s research on ‘100 best companies to work for’ reveals that companies in the top decile for employee engagement boosted earnings per share at nearly four times the rate of companies with lower scores. What do these companies do differently? In my quest to unearth this ‘Passion Formula’, I have closely studied companies known for their passionate and committed employees. I find that passion can and must be infused. In fact, it is a function of three variables:
1. Finding Meaning
Entrepreneurs are passionate. I have met many and I find that each one is driven by an intense, compelling emotion about something. What could be the underlying psychology behind this passion? It can be attributed to a clear and direct perceived linkage between what they do and the higher order purpose. They feel their work means something. Google is another example. Its mission is to make information accessible and useful to all. There are several mechanisms that convert this mission into something tangible. The touching ‘Dear Sophie’ advertisement campaign for google chrome where a father sends messages to his daughter about various milestones in her life is a case in point. Thus the most important ingredient for cultivating passion in an organization is to help employees find meaning in what they do by connecting their work to the organization’s mission.
2. Acquiring Expertise
It is extremely rare to find a subject matter expert who is not enthused about his/her domain area. Mastery or expertise can shape one’s identity and establish a personal connect with the job. Starbuck’s Leadership Lab is a good example to illustrate this. It is a 300,000 square feet theatrical extravaganza. The dramatic lights, music and shows immerse store managers into the brand and culture. But what is more noteworthy is the way in which ‘education’ is seamlessly weaved into the fanfare. There are stations that take managers through problem solving, demonstrate new products with customer insights and sales suggestions. Store managers are also given live demonstrations and information about roasting, blending and other aspects about business. Thus building domain expertise that connects to the core business is the second piece of the puzzle.
3. Choosing Optimism
Pablo Picasso, who revolutionized the art world, once said “I do not seek, I find”. These are powerful words that reflect confidence and conviction. To seek is just an attempt. To find however, speaks of the end result. In my experience, the quote captures very well the mindset of passionate people. When you meet them, you invariably get a feeling that “the next big thing is just around the corner”. Some people are born with a positive mindset but others need to ‘choose’ it. Consider the crew of Southwest Airlines, known for its passion. There exists an inherent positivity that leads to great service. How else could a flight attendant turn a normally staid safety speech into a comedy routine?
(With Inputs from Neha Londhe)