The principles of worker engagement have been used for many decades, as far back as the early 1900’s when Dale Carnegie focused his passion and interest on the power of personal development in order to create success in one’s business and personal life. This trend has continued to evolve over time with much interest generated in employee engagement in organizations, especially as the correlation between engagement and profit became credible. However, the short-term engagement initiatives have focused more on immediate job satisfaction and output levels, and less on passion of the employee, or collectively the passion of the organization. This is problematic.
The Passion Gap
A 2014 Deloitte study revealed that “typical measures of worker engagement do no look at attributes that make up the passion …including a commitment to driving increasing performance improvement, excitement about engaging on new challenges or eagerness to take on those challenges by working closely with others.” The survey goes on to say that while there has been some increase since 2013, still only 12% of America’s workforce possesses the attributes of worker passion.
Cultivating a passion and higher-level purpose in one’s work is vital no matter your role, whether you’re a freelancer, you run your own small business, you work amongst a team, you lead a department, or you have a family.
Bridging the Gap
1.) Take Risks
Risk is a common term in business world and can be especially applied to an entrepreneur, start-up employee or freelancer. By definition, passionate workers thrive on new challenges in combination with making an impact, which is fuel to constantly seek and learn. Often we know what it is we want to do, but we still don’t do it. In order to bridge your own passion gap, you must commit to taking bolder, more decisive and brave actions — ‘Fortes fortuna adiuvat’ or “Fortune favors the bold.” Seeking contributions big or small, that you can do beyond the core duties of your job and responsibilities is one way to foster risk-taking and tap into moving from an engaged professional to a passionate one.
2.) Invest Your Time
In the book Outliers, author Malcolm Gladwell concludes that it takes roughly 10,000 hours of practice to achieve mastery in an area of focus. The book goes on to describe that elite workers don’t just work harder at their given focus, but at some point these same individuals fall in love with practice to the extent where they do not want to do anything else. This doesn’t mean compromising a healthy work-life balance to accomplish your passion, but rather seeking out how you spend versus invest your time. Those who spend their time working feel little growth or reward ultimately compromising the ability to achieve a passionate state. Whereas those who are investing their time in making an impact, often times achieve a state in which they are individually capable of seeking out higher levels of contribution — whether it’s project-based, furthering your education or finding community-based involvement in your areas of focus. As a result, passionate workers are at a lower risk of burning out because of the distinction between invested time and time spent.
3.) Build Connections
Connections are different than networking – connecting is about acquiring knowledge from others and the importance of learning through experience, both the experiences of others and your own. Connecting should be focused on seeking out links with those (in related areas of focus) to gain learnings that can be applied to your own work. These relationships should be driven by the goal to gain new insights and promote action, rather than to grow your professional network. By fostering, deep rewarding connections with others that are passionate and investing of their own time, you can learn, develop new skills and solve problems. Embrace the concept of “learn by doing.” By maximizing your learning through others and by gaining authentic understanding into your areas of focus – you will continue to cultivate your worker passion.