Leadership: Passion In The Workplace – Why Does it Die?

It is 10.30 in the morning. Candidates are being interviewed. Later that day a candidate is selected for the role subject to reference checks. References are excellent. The successful candidate is strong in the areas required. The candidate’s passion for the organisation and for the role is very high.

Eighteen months later, despite passion for the organisation and the role, this employee resigns. What went Wrong? Let’s examine possible causes for the resignation. First, we must understand the meaning of passion.

What is passion?

Passion is strong emotion, strong enthusiasm for a thing, for doing, (The Australian Concise Oxford Dictionary).  In the workplace, passion is being very enthusiastic about what you are doing.

However passion without self-control, discipline and determination results in failure. Why? Because in the workplace enthusiasm needs to be focused on meeting performance requirements on a day to day basis. And it is at this point that passion can deteriorate into job dissatisfaction and conflict.

Why does passion die?

I am often asked “What can leaders do to create passion in employees?”. This is the wrong question. The question should be “Why do employees lose their passion?”.

Just as a tooth ache can be caused by many things, there can be many causes for employees losing their passion – the passion they had when they were recruited. Some typical causes include:

  • Poor leadership processes
  • Lack of recognition for achievements
  • Unclear role requirements
  • Strange pay structures
  • Strange organisation structures and reporting lines
  • Workplace conflict

 These factors drain away the positive energy of employees. Eventually they have only sufficient energy to meet minimum performance requirements, or they resign and move on.

Leader’s attempts to repair the damage rarely succeed. It is too late. Organisation performance declines and employees are no longer a competitive advantage, instead, they become a millstone around the organisation’s neck.

© Dallas Burgess PeopleAdvantage Pty Limited 2010

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