Corporations Must Cultivate Passion, Too

Have you found your passion yet? Chances are, you've been looking for it for a while.

Most college counselors encourage students to explore a variety of subjects -- bewildering parents who want their children to complete an undergraduate degree in four years. The colleges claim it's not to keep students in school longer, but to help them discover what interests them.

Recognizing the link between passion, success and happiness, commencement speakers exhort graduation candidates to find their passion. Next up: job interviewers. What job candidate hasn't been asked the question, "What's your passion?" Most know to get the job, their answer had better directly relate to the open position.

Passion-less workforce.
But despite all the preaching about passion, surveys show only 13 percent of employees around the world feel engaged at work. More than twice that number are so disengaged they are likely spreading their negativity to others, according to Gallup and Deloitte research. Could it be that despite all the talk, many of us really don't know what our passion is?

Too often, on the road to adulthood and employment, students major not in what they love but what they think they do well, or where they think there are employment opportunities. Their eyes are on getting good grades, getting a scholarship and getting a job. Once out in the real world they frequently discover that what they have learned to do is not what they love.

Active engagement.
Employers can argue that's not their problem, but when people are doing what they love, no one needs to worry about employee engagement. Workers are naturally engaged, energized, enthusiastic and aligned for success. Finding ways to help employees discover, pursue and succeed at what they are passionate about is a good investment.

To help employees find passion in their work, the solution I employed was two-fold:

1) Job rotation. All new hires spent one year working in every department within the company. Not only did they learn about what that department did, they actually performed the same work as other department members. At the end of that year, they were asked to choose the work they liked best. This practice offered many benefits. One was that it enabled our employees to discover their passion and find talents they often never knew they had.

2) Passion extension. Through our commitment to our corporate values, all our employees were asked to use their life energy to live their purpose. In meetings, workshops and retreats we examined our life purpose. When we did, we found we shared a common purpose: to add highest value. To do so, we discovered that we needed to continually improve. As a result, continuous personal improvement became a passion for many of our employees.

Natural outcome.
Change is constant in our world. Changing the focus of one's passion from a particular subject matter to the practice of improvement no matter the subject matter is incredibly empowering. We discovered that when our people did this, they took enormous leaps in growth personally and professionally, and our company benefitted tremendously.

Companies that look to restrict employees to small boxes on organizational charts and narrowly defined advancement tracks are missing the boat. It's not just the job of educational institutions to help people find their passion. Companies that help employees find their passion find employee engagement a natural outcome.


Ratanjit S. Sondhe is the founder and CEO of Discoverhelp, Inc., a public speaker and the author of the new book, "How Oneness Changes Everything: Empowering Business Through 9 Universal Laws."

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