29 Jul How to Create a Workplace That Inspires Passion
Passion provides powerful motivation for learning, yet a recent survey among the US workforce showed that just 13% of all employees exhibiting the type of passion in their work environments that helps them truly improve in their professions. Since before the outbreak, corporate leaders everywhere are wondering – especially in times of uncertainty and shifting economies – how can we create learning environments that inspire passion — and how do we scale them to work in even the largest institutions?
In broad stroke terms, research has identified three main qualities of people who have the particular form of passion that is associated with performance improvement. Passionate team members have a long-term commitment to increasing one’s impact in a particular domain — for example, banking, medicine, gardening, or visual art, as well as a questing disposition that seeks out new challenges and views them as exciting opportunities to learn. Meanwhile, they exhibit a connecting disposition that actively seeks connections with others who could help address these challenges.
This kind of passion is quite rare in today’s business world, but the qualities are not that rare among your team. Chances are that the majority of your team members have at least one of these attributes of passion to build on. What’s more, if your company invested in making changes to the work environment to help accelerate learning, the benefits wi=ould be exponential. In particular, two critical work environment design principles help employees cultivate passion: creating systems for experimentation and supporting connection among workers.
The first way to support passion is to build systems for experimentation that help learners discover their particular domains. This happens through a combination of processes, tools, and management practices designed to compress cycle times and reduce the risk of failure. Oftentimes, this includes shared physical and virtual spaces for teams, prototyping and feedback tools, and management support.
The second way to support passion was in creating connections between workers. Passionate employees are wired to seek out others who can help them meet their goals. Consultants who collaborate with WWD have found that companies that successfully support passionate exploration make it easy for those employees to find others with relevant expertise, both within and outside the organization. This, in turn, helps people solve problems more effectively and supports future collaboration.
Although not every company is going to take these steps, there are a couple of things that team leaders can do to help employees apply passion at the workgroup level. Firstly, help your team members frame a powerful question. Exclusive focus on day-to-day challenges can lead people to miss larger shifts in the business ecosystem. Developing a sense of purpose — coming together to ask and answer a powerful question — can help a workgroup move beyond incremental efforts and inspire individual passion. To develop a powerful question, use open-ended prompts, such as “is this what we should be doing” and “what else is possible,” that encourage creative thinking and inspire new and novel approaches.
Meanwhile, prioritize performance trajectory. Just establishing a desired outcome doesn’t put a workgroup on track to reach it —and it’s all too easy to get distracted by incremental gains along the way. Instead, set high-impact performance objectives and track their trajectory, then make tradeoffs to accelerate movement toward shared outcomes. Encouraging long-term thinking outside the executive suite can also inspire workers to raise their aspirations and focus on what matters, deepening long-term commitment.
Whatever the time and effort that it may take, the benefits are well with it. In any organization, there’s an untapped opportunity to cultivate passion in the workforce. People with the passion of the explorer are motivated to learn faster and that can play a significant role in accelerating performance improvement. Taking specific steps to cultivate passion is rewarding for both employees and companies. If you need help navigating ways to do this, reach out to us and we’l be glad to point your organization in the right direction.