The comments on How Do You Uncover the "Passion Factor"? raised more than a few thoughtful insights on the topic.
No one is against the idea of being passionate about one's work. But Managing Leadership's Jim Stroup voiced a valid concern with this:
Passion for work is generated by the value of that work - not by a mindless "passion" gene or character trait. As a result, the responsibility for generating passion should be placed back where it belongs - on managers, or even on directors and owners, not employees.
Peter Vajda of SpiritHeart points out the soulful nature of a person's passion, then adds:
"it's more akin to an alchemical reaction that bubbles up from engaging activities. . ."
Guided Passion and Engagement
What we're seeing here is the truth coming to the surface. Although passion may be an individual experience, in the workplace it's the manager who is the perpetrator of passion.
Matching the right tasks with the right people breeds the kind of productive experience that offer satisfaction as a result of accomplishment. That kind of matching means that managers have to know their people well enough to know what their individual talents are--then use them accordingly. This does at least four things (you may want to add more):
1. It offers the opportunity for the company to benefit from the strengths that it supposedly hired.
2. It shows the employees that their talents are, indeed, recognized, and that they (the employees) aren't just "human" resources.
3. It shows the employees that their managers know "who they are and what they are all about."
4. It offers a genuine chance at a reality of "excellence" rather than "excellence" as a buzzword.
Maybe we should start referring to this as "guided passion": understanding the best of what people bring to the job and managing more deliberately to help people become productive in satisfying ways.
Note: Look, there are tasks that all of us have to do, regardless of the work we've chosen. We not only aren't passionate about them, we don't like them. It's part of life and being an adult. Managers aren't there to "make people happy." Happiness is a personal choice. But managers get paid to produce excellent results. They can't achieve that goal without bringing about excellence in their people. And I don't think I've ever heard anyone express disappointment at the opportunity to excel.
That's what has to happen to make all of this a reality: management engagement. Employee engagement implies that there are vast numbers of workers malingering on the job--and we have to "get them engaged."
I would suggest that there are vast numbers of managers who don't know their people well enough to orchestrate work in ways that lift people's desire to engage. There are too many mismatches going on out there.
It ends up being, in great part, a relational issue.
Managing is not an easy job to do well. But it's impossible if a manager doesn't take the time to build relationships that allow insight into individuals' strengths and desires when they show up for work.
The employment agreement is a contract: We, the organization, need to accomplish this; and we're hiring you, the employee (regardless of level), because you bring this to the organization
The manager's job is to orchestrate all of this.
I like the idea of Guided Passion.
Photo source: roberts-playground