How to Re-Ignite Passion in Business
It’s a proven fact that people who feel a sense of purpose are more engaged in the work they are doing. Purpose-driven people possess Passion.
This may be why many companies embrace the value of passion. They hope to inspire an engaged workforce that will go above and beyond and ultimately create a competitive advantage.
A few companies that claim this value include:
- BorgWarner has a passion for excellence.
- Celgene has a passion for patients.
- L Brands believes passion leads to success.
- Mattel encourages their people to play with passion.
- Rite Aid has a passion for customers.
- Tech Data has a passion for winning.
Another company, Anixter International, the large provider of wire and cables products, refers to the elements of passion under the value of Enthusiasm. In their humorous yet detailed 32-page values document, called the Blue Book, the company describes it this way:
- Enthusiasm is the greatest business asset in the world. It beats money, power and influence.
- Enthusiasm tramples over opposition, storms its objectives and overwhelms all obstacles.
- Enthusiasm is contagious, so carry it in your attitude and manner. It will increase productivity, and it will bring joy and satisfaction to our people.
- Enthusiasm brings RESULTS.
Companies clearly see huge benefits from having a passionate workforce.
But something bad happens when passion – or enthusiasm – isn’t linked to a relevant and meaningful purpose. Passion wanes. Engagement (and job satisfaction) decreases. It’s like a burning candle that gets snuffed out at the slightest breeze.
So what can companies do to re-ignite passion?
- Why does the company exist?
- Who all benefits from what the company produces?
- Who is the company ultimately trying to serve and what difference does it make?
- Why should employees care about coming to work (other than a paycheck)?
- What is the one thing the company does better than anyone else on the planet?
These are the kinds of questions that business leaders need to ask when assessing (or re-assessing) the business purpose. This is also known as a company’s Mission. Unfortunately, most mission statements are extremely boring – the antithesis of an inspiring purpose.
In their best-selling book Built to Last authors Jim Collins and Jerry Porras describe an organization’s core purpose as follows:
“[It’s] the organization’s fundamental reason for being. An effective purpose reflects the importance people attach to the company’s work—it taps their idealistic motivations—and gets at the deeper reasons for an organization’s existence beyond just making money.”
The authors then identify five characteristics for creating a powerful purpose:
- It’s inspiring to those inside the company.
- It’s something that’s as valid 100 years from now as it is today.
- It should help everyone think expansively about what’s possible but not currently doing.
- It should help everyone decide what NOT to do.
- It’s truly authentic to the company.
As I highlighted in a previous post, there is solid research showing that for purpose to be meaningful and lasting, it needs to be communicated in clear and concrete terms. Sadly, many leaders fail to communicate their purpose due to weak imagery.
High performing organizations communicate a strong and concrete purpose.
Is the Effort Worth It?
In addition to fulfilling a worthy purpose, there are also significant financial considerations.
Having a clear and inspiring purpose that ignites passion – and employee engagement – helps drive a solid bottom line. Various reports confirm that companies with engaged employees produce higher productivity, stronger growth, lower turnover, better customer loyalty, and higher profits.
Bottom line: passion is a great metric of the effectiveness of a company’s purpose. If passion is weak or gone, it’s time to revisit purpose and re-imagine the reason employees come to work.
Have you experienced working for an organization where passion had faded and then was re-ignited? What did the leaders do to spark the flame?