I love watching people who work in a job where not only is their true passion showcased through the work that they do, but flows freely into conversations, other interests, and what new things they learn. See I believe passion and learning are uniquely tied together in the workplace. People who know their passion want to continue to expand their knowledge base and want to learn new skills, expanding their contributions in the workplace. For those still looking, these employees need an avenue to continue to seek their passion even when at work. For employers, understanding the link between passion and learning is a great starting point for in-house learning options.
Angela Duckworth, author of the best-selling book Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance, believes that those lacking passion will not necessarily find it by continual introspection. She believes that those searching for their passion need to go out and find new experiences, learn new things. In most cases, passion is not going to hit a person like a lightning bolt, but develop over a period of time when exposed to different experiences that leave the person wanting more.
“Passion is not going to hit a person like a lightning bolt, but develop over a period of time when exposed to different experiences that leave the person wanting more.”
For many employees, being in jobs that do not challenge them to continue to seek their passion if nonexistent or grow and nurture their passion means a potentially sooner exit from the company. However, employers can foster an environment that supports an employee’s need and desire to find and grow passion.
Recognizing employees whose jobs are more aligned with their passions is usually easier than recognizing those still trying to find it. For the latter group, their lack of a passion may look like poor performance or a “come in, get my job done, get a paycheck” attitude. And as I have seen over my years of working in HR, employees who simply come to work because they have to instead of a driving passion to be there are usually not super stars.
As employers, offering internal learning experiences such as department rotational work, cross-training, or stretch assignments are great ways to encourage employees to step out of their comfort area and try something new. By offering this, employers are not only increasing employees’ skillsets and value to the organization, but giving them an opportunity for personal growth and to find their passion.
“Employers are not only increasing an employees’ skillsets and value to the organization with in-house learning opportunities, but giving them an opportunity for personal growth and to find their passion.”
A business leader I worked with once told me that she found her passion for customer service by trying out different roles within a large organization. While the roles were different, she was always drawn to the part of the job focused on supporting the customer and the challenges of finding a workable solution. Her passion for customer service took her up through the organization’s ranks to eventually leading numerous teams that at their core provided customer service. She also used her passion for customer service by speaking on behalf of volunteer organizations. She said that if it had not been for the opportunities she was afforded inside her organization, she might have left the organization to pursue a career in finance which she later learned was not what drove her to succeed.
I’ll admit passion is not necessarily a word that is discussed at a planning meeting or during performance reviews, but may be it should be. How many times have you said or heard “It is just not the right role for her” or “It might be better if he quit because it is obvious he is not happy here?” While an employee finding her passion will not solve all employment-related issues, we need to at least consider it in during employment conversations. It may be the one thing missing from an average employee becoming a highly-valued employee in your organization.