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New Age thinkers, however, do not see all these things as imaginary or fantasy real, but the Star Trek idea of a life-filled universe of intelligence and advanced.
Table of contents
- Building a more passionate future workforce | Deloitte Insights
- Passions (philosophy)
- Passion at work
- Navigation menu
By creating the right work environments at all levels of the organization, companies have the potential to unleash the attributes of passion among workers at all levels—not just management—and to increase the number of Explorers within their workforce. Debunking these preconceptions as myths suggests the need for a profound change in the way leaders try to identify the best talent within their organizations and, especially, the way they go about recruiting and hiring talent into their organizations.
Firms almost always place an explicit premium on educational attainment and, less explicitly, are swayed by preconceived notions of what type of person will be most committed to their work and most valuable to the company. Granted, there is no doubt that workers with advanced degrees bring key skill sets and important theoretical backgrounds. A younger or older person may bring insights from his or her generation that are unique and valuable. But what firms need to realize is that, while these characteristics are valuable, they are not indicative of whether an individual has the passion of the Explorer or any of its attributes.
For this reason, organizations seeking top talent must be more deliberate in identifying the attributes of passion among both candidates and the existing workforce, as well as in recognizing the potential for passion to multiply the value of the core skills they seek in employees. To do this, it is necessary to understand how the internal drive of passionate workers differs from that of the rest of the population. Explorers love their work. It is the work and the pursuit of improved performance related to their work that keeps them going.
This indicates that Explorers tend to positively express themselves about their work, which, for many people, incorporates both the type of work they do, the role they play, and the management environment they do it in. Beyond working harder, passionate workers also have a different tolerance for risk at work. They are intrinsically motivated to forge ahead with challenging problems and take significant risks to improve performance. Explorers are significantly more likely to take risks to improve their performance than workers with no attributes of passion: Being insulated from all risk can turn a daring Explorer into a departing Explorer.
Building a more passionate future workforce | Deloitte Insights
This is likely one of the reasons why Explorers switch jobs more frequently than the average Joe. They report innovating twice as frequently 37 percent as nonpassionate workers do This tendency complements the connecting disposition and leads Explorers to function as incubators of innovation. With support and some direction, this aspect of worker passion can be harnessed. Despite their tremendous value to the organization, Explorers are not driven by income.
Our analysis found that income was not a statistically significant predictor of possessing the attributes of the Explorer. In spite of not being driven by income, Explorers turn out to be overrepresented in higher-income brackets and underrepresented in lower-income brackets. One possible explanation is that, overall, the types of jobs that provide the most satisfying work environment for an Explorer also tend to pay better.
Alternatively, Explorers in the right work environment may perform so well that they tend to receive higher salaries and bonuses. This distinction between what Explorers earn vs. Instead, companies need to explore other ways, beyond compensation, to deliver an enriching work environment—one where employees have sufficient autonomy to take risks, opportunities to improve their performance, and the chance to connect with others across and beyond the organization.
Attention paid to creating this environment will help not only to attract and retain Explorers but also to cultivate potential Explorers and unlock their potential throughout the workforce. Armed with a better understanding of who passionate workers really are, what practical tools can companies use to help better recruit, retain, and cultivate passion? To better understand Explorer behavior beyond personal attributes, we collected Twitter handles from respondents and tested whether Explorers had a statistically identifiable pattern of speech or selection of topics when communicating on Twitter.
Additionally, we tested whether different kinds of passionate workers had more or fewer followers.
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Unfortunately, the rate at which respondents shared their Twitter handles was so low that neither practical nor statistical significance could be assigned to differences between the groups in any way. This is an area for future study pending improvements in sample size. We are hopeful that this new methodology of combining survey data with Twitter data will allow us to perform large-scale classification studies on the online behavior of Explorers in the future.
Passion either flourishes or disappears when put in certain environments. So how can companies create environments that unlock the potential of their employees? Organizations should rethink their work environments—from the physical space to virtual environments to management practices—to understand how policies, practices, and actions impact the attributes of passion.
From the analysis of our survey data, we have identified four organizational components that are most strongly correlated with a person being an Explorer. These are the organizational attributes that describe what passionate workers are likely drawn to in an organization and therefore have voluntarily opted into. At the same time, these organizational attributes illustrate work environment characteristics that are more likely to cultivate passion within workers. These four characteristics are well aligned with the attributes of passion. When workers are encouraged to work cross-functionally and connect with others in their industry, they tap into their connecting disposition.
When workers are encouraged to work on projects they are interested in instead of or as well as those they are assigned to, they tap into their questing disposition. When workers are encouraged to engage with customers and other ecosystem partners to innovate together, they are seeing the impact they are making, helping to cultivate commitment to domain.
While these four organizational attributes turned out to be the most predictive of passion in our survey, other tactics exist that companies can deploy to unlock the attributes of passion. In our study of various work environments and their impact on performance, we identified three goals that companies should work toward when building their physical and virtual environments, as well as in designing their management practices see figure 5. First, companies should define high-impact challenges by helping workers and teams to focus on the areas of highest business impact, learning, and sustainable improvement.
Second, companies should strengthen high-impact connections by enabling workers to connect with people who matter, both inside and outside the organization. By building environments with these three goals in mind, companies can help unleash passion in their workforce. Organizations should share the key challenges they are facing with all workers—from the executive suite to the front line. Workers should be given a chance to work on those challenges if they are interested, even if their job description does not call for it.
His interests started in the field of fundamental physics. Through his careers at Stanford University, a national lab, and the Santa Fe institute, he was able to see the impact he was making on the field of science by solving challenges and moving his chosen area forward. Eventually, pursuing a personal interest, West explored the field of biology and then embarked upon understanding complex systems at the Santa Fe Institute.
Connecting performance to impact is an important and often missing element. Companies often have corporate-wide performance metrics that are irrelevant to, or misaligned with the goals of, specific units. The managers who were able to build commitment to domain were able to modify or interpret corporate metrics to make them relevant and meaningful for their teams. At Clif Bar, Diana Simmons developed a matrix of competencies and metrics that she believed were most important for her team: But my team is an influence-based, cross-functional product launch team—it seemed obvious that we needed a unique set of skills and leadership tools to succeed in this role.
Some companies, like Intuit, have excelled at creating these platforms.
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Experimentation is often associated with failures: Not all prototypes work. The way companies handle these failures has a direct impact on whether workers will experiment. These are environments that value predictability and scalable efficiency and view questing as undesirable.
However, Simmons found it hard to specifically define a time she failed: I always focus on the larger goal, and as long as this goal is still correct, even if the tactics you take toward that goal do not work, that is not a failure. Failures should be acceptable, especially if they are cheap and quick. Modular processes and products allow for experiments within each module, and even failures do not need to threaten the entire process, or product. Companies should try to redesign their processes and products to reduce risk and facilitate experimentation.
But in order to learn, experimentation is not enough. Workers should be given timely as close to real-time as possible and context-specific feedback. Additionally, workers should be allowed time and space for reflection and tools to capture and share lessons learned. The challenge at many companies today is how to make this process seamless. At many organizations, feedback, reflection, and capture are extra steps that workers have to take in addition to their daily activities.
However, tools such as gamification platforms can integrate these processes more into daily work. Connections can lead to new learning. Companies should create environments—both physical and virtual—that help workers to develop new connections and also to strengthen their existing relationships. For example, companies can create environments that foster serendipitous encounters.
For example, cameras could be located in the common areas where remote workers can see their colleagues and interact with them. Additionally, screenshots from whiteboards in common areas could be distributed to enable a remote team to comment and add their perspectives, even if they were not part of the original serendipitous discussion.
Companies should develop platforms for collaboration with customers and other ecosystem players to share knowledge and develop solutions. A key aspect of such a collaboration platform is tools for connecting, including automatically generated reputation profiles. The company challenged the usefulness of corporate training programs and instead suggested a way to facilitate on-the-job learning.
Passion at work
It developed a platform that connects workers interested in learning a new skill often outside their job description with opportunities in need of extra resources. RallyTeam provides both a platform for connecting workers to opportunities and tools for creating action-based reputation profiles. The emergence of companies such as RallyTeam is evidence of the need for workers to connect and learn both inside and outside the four walls of their enterprise.
Work environments and management practices that cultivate the passionate disposition will not only help stimulate and engage workers who are already passionate but also allow those who do not demonstrate all the attributes of a passionate worker to cultivate the missing ones. Sadly, many executives focus more on attracting and retaining talented workers than on designing the right work environment, even though an environment where workers can learn fast, unlock their passion, and improve performance helps attract and retain workers.
Word will spread that the company develops workers more rapidly than anyone else, and people will line up to apply. And why would anyone leave the environment where they can learn and improve performance most effectively? When evaluating your work environment, consider the statements that the Explorers we interviewed made.
How will your organization treat workers who think this way? While developing the right work environment should be a priority, it is hard to ignore recruiting. Instead, companies should understand how candidates have demonstrated commitment to domain, questing, and connecting attributes in either their previous jobs or outside their career.
Evidence such as participation in online communities for example, GitHub and contributing to forums can show that the candidate is truly passionate about the field. Additionally, both organizations and workers should seek to be aligned in terms of values or personal aspirations. For example, early in his career, Dave Hoover faced a choice: At the time, he had three young kids and a mortgage, so the safety of the established organization seemed attractive and, in fact, would have provided an opportunity for advancement within the IT field.
However, Hoover was also passionate about blogging and being a thought leader in the area of learning. He realized that his interest in blogging and speaking at conferences would help further the business goals and mission of the small start-up, while at the financial institution it would, at best, be tolerated but might also be viewed as a liability and prohibited.
I wanted the organization that my passion best aligned with. Over time, she realized that she also needed work that took advantage of her particular skills and strengths. When the work environment and personal values and goals are aligned, workers are more likely to demonstrate the attributes of the passionate and make an impact on both the company and the broader ecosystem.
Designing the right work environment helps retain Explorers. After all, if they do not learn and improve their performance quickly, they will look for another environment where these objectives can be satisfied. Additionally, as we discussed earlier, retaining Explorers with financial incentives is not sustainable because this tactic does not effectively impact Explore retention. Employers could use talent surveys to assess whether they are cultivating the passionate and to determine the impact of work environment initiatives. We built a predictive model to help identify measurable characteristics that can best predict whether or not someone will be passionate.
Listed in descending order, these are the top 10 predictors of whether a person is a passionate worker. These indicators could be used by companies in their worker surveys to understand the state of passion within the organization:. Additionally, companies can cross-reference this talent survey data against performance evaluations to see if Explorers are getting the recognition they deserve. This could help companies fine-tune the performance evaluation process.
Finally, the organization could engage the passionate workers identified through the talent survey to help redesign the work environment to cultivate passionate attributes in other workers. One of the keys to retaining passionate workers is to make sure they do not feel alone. Connecting them with other passionate workers and allowing teams of Explorers to work together on challenges, coupled with a motivating recognition system, can help these workers feel energized.
In this report, we have made a number of recommendations on how firms can cultivate, attract, and retain Explorers while simultaneously advocating a new view of passion within the workforce. In aggregate, this challenge could seem overwhelming. However, at their core, our recommendations boil down to the following three principles:. Passionate workers come from all age groups, educational levels, and backgrounds.
Take risks to cultivate these dispositions, and passionate workers will take risks for you in return. Organizations should evaluate their work environments to understand where they cultivate or discourage passion. The right work environments will help attract, retain, and develop Explorers. Below are some questions interviewers could use to test worker passion.
These are just suggestions. Each company should reflect on what the various attributes of passion mean for its work environment and develop its own approach to testing for attributes of worker passion. What is the market, area, industry, or function that you want to impact in 5—10 years? Individuals with commitment to domain will have an area that they want to impact professionally.
For example, a person may want to build online learning communities or change the way diabetes education is conducted. To test further for commitment to domain, an interviewer can ask what the candidate has done to date in this area. A person with true commitment to domain will often already have taken steps in this area and see your job or position as a way to accelerate his or her efforts.
Individuals committed to a domain often interpret their experiences both within and outside the domain as meaningful to achieving their goals. For example, a candidate who wants to make a difference in the developing world will likely view his or her experience at a technology start-up as a stepping stone. He or she may view the skills and learnings from managing uncertainty and understanding technology trends as important skills for helping communities in emerging economies develop.
Look for candidates who view new challenges as opportunities to learn new skills and improve performance. Workers with a questing disposition will often welcome new challenges with excitement and anticipation instead of fear and concern. An individual with a questing disposition will often view failures as necessary steps to achieving a goal. Failures, they think, are a necessary part of experimentation. Moreover, passionate workers may not even see these as failures but as the steps that get them closer to making an impact. Describe your approach to understanding a topic of which you had no prior experience.
As a part of his or her approach, an individual with a connecting disposition will reach out to others—for example, communities and teams inside and outside the organization—to learn about a new area. For example, an individual may attend a meeting on a topic in digital health to meet others interested in the topic and tap into their knowledge. He or she may also join a discussion board where individuals share ideas. A number of New Age proponents have emphasised the use of spiritual techniques as a tool for attaining financial prosperity, thus moving the movement away from its counter-cultural origins.
Embracing this attitude, various books have been published espousing such an ethos, established New Age centres have held spiritual retreats and classes aimed specifically at business people, and New Age groups have developed specialised training for businesses. Given that it encourages individuals to choose spiritual practices on the grounds of personal preference and thus encourages them to behave as a consumer, the New Age has been considered to be well suited to modern society.
The term " New Age music " is applied, sometimes in a derogative manner, to forms of ambient music , a genre that developed in the s and was popularised in the s, particularly with the work of Brian Eno. The style began in the late s and early s with the works of free-form jazz groups recording on the ECM label; such as Oregon , the Paul Winter Consort , and other pre-ambient bands; as well as ambient music performer Brian Eno, classical avant-garde musician Daniel Kobialka ,   and the psychoacoustic environments recordings of Irv Teibel.
New-age music evolved to include a wide range of styles from electronic space music using synthesizers and acoustic instrumentals using Native American flutes and drums , singing bowls , Australian didgeredoos and world music sounds to spiritual chanting from other cultures. While many commentators have focused on the spiritual and cultural aspects of the New Age movement, it also has a political component.
The New Age political movement became visible in the s, peaked in the s, and continued into the s. Lewis observed that, despite the common caricature of New Agers as narcissistic, "significant numbers" of them were "trying to make the planet a better place on which to live,"  and scholar J.
Although New Age activists have been motivated by New Age concepts like holism, interconnectedness, monism, and environmentalism, their political ideas are diverse,  ranging from far-right and conservative through to liberal , socialist , and libertarian.
The standard political labels—left or right, liberal or conservative—miss the mark. The extent to which New Age spokespeople mix religion and politics varies. He believed that in contrast to the conventional political focus on the "institutional and economic symptoms" of society's problems, his "New Age politics" would focus on "psychocultural roots" of these issues.
Many New Agers advocate globalisation and localisation , but reject nationalism and the role of the nation-state. Scholars have noted several New Age political groups. It advocated a change in consciousness — in "basic underlying assumptions" — in order to come to grips with global crises. According to Melton et al. Group decision-making was facilitated by short periods of silence. Lewis counted "Green politics" as one of the New Age's more visible activities. Green Party movement began as an initiative of a handful of activists including Charlene Spretnak , co-author of a "'new age' interpretation" of the German Green movement Capra and Spretnak's Green Politics , and Mark Satin, author of New Age Politics.
Greens' founding document, the "Ten Key Values" statement.
While the term "New Age" may have fallen out of favor,   scholar George Chryssides notes that the New Age by whatever name is "still alive and active" in the 21st century. Mainstream periodicals tended to be less than sympathetic; sociologist Paul Ray and psychologist Sherry Anderson discussed in their book The Cultural Creatives , what they called the media's "zest for attacking" New Age ideas, and offered the example of a Lance Morrow essay in Time magazine. Some New Agers and New Age sympathizers responded to such criticisms.
For example, sympathizers Ray and Anderson said that much of it was an attempt to "stereotype" the movement for idealistic and spiritual change, and to cut back on its popularity. Initially, academic interest in the New Age was minimal. Gordon Melton in Sutcliffe and Gilhus argued that 'New Age studies' could be seen as having experienced two waves; in the first, scholars focused on "macro-level analyses of the content and boundaries" of the "movement", while the second wave featured "more variegated and contextualized studies of particular beliefs and practices".
Mainstream Christianity has typically rejected the ideas of the New Age;  Christian critiques often emphasise that the New Age places the human individual before God. Peretti 's novel This Present Darkness , which sold over a million copies; it depicted the New Age as being in league with feminism and secular education as part of a conspiracy to overthrow Christianity. An issue of academic debate has been regarding the connection between the New Age movement and contemporary Paganism , or Neo-Paganism.
Kelly stated that Paganism "parallels the New Age movement in some ways, differs sharply from it in others, and overlaps it in some minor ways". Various differences between the two movements have been highlighted; the New Age movement focuses on an improved future, whereas the focus of Paganism is on the pre-Christian past. One of the most contentious aspects of the New Age has been its adoption of spiritual ideas and practises from other, particularly non-Western cultures. The New Age has been accused of cultural imperialism , misappropriating the sacred ceremonies, and abuse of the intellectual and cultural property of indigenous peoples.
They see the New Age movement as either not fully understanding, deliberately trivializing, or distorting their way of life,  and have declared war on all such " plastic medicine people " who are appropriating their spiritual ways. Indigenous leaders have spoken out against individuals from within their own communities who may go out into the world to become a "white man's shaman," and any "who are prostituting our spiritual ways for their own selfish gain, with no regard for the spiritual well-being of the people as a whole". Toward the end of the 20th century, some social and political analysts and activists were arguing that the New Age political perspective had something to offer mainstream society.
Other political thinkers and activists saw New Age politics less positively. On the political right, author George Weigel argued that New Age politics was just a retooled and pastel-colored version of leftism. Cloud , wrote a lengthy critique of New Age politics as a political ideology;  she faulted it for not being opposed to the capitalist system , or to liberal individualism. A criticism of New Age often made by leftists is that its focus on individualism deflects participants from engaging in socio-political activism. Journalist Harvey Wasserman suggested that New Age activists were too averse to social conflict to be effective politically.
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. This article is about the New Age movement. For the astrological age in western astrology, see Age of Aquarius. For other uses, see New Age disambiguation. Often, the definition given actually reflects the background of the scholar giving the definition. Thus, the New Ager views New Age as a revolutionary period of history dictated by the stars; the Christian apologist has often defined new age as a cult; the historian of ideas understands it as a manifestation of the perennial tradition; the philosopher sees New Age as a monistic or holistic worldview; the sociologist describes New Age as a new religious movement NRM ; while the psychologist describes it as a form of narcissism.
All manifestations of this movement are characterized by a popular western culture criticism expressed in terms of a secularized esotericism. A variety of small movements arose, revolving around revealed messages from beings in space and presenting a synthesis of post-Theosophical and other esoteric doctrines. These movements might have remained marginal, had it not been for the explosion of the counterculture in the s and early s. It became perfectly feasible for the same individuals to consult the I Ching, practice Jungian astrology, read Abraham Maslow's writings on peak experiences, etc.
The reason for the ready incorporation of such disparate sources was a similar goal of exploring an individualized and largely non-Christian religiosity. Spiritual but not religious and List of New Age topics. The authors of much of this material make claims that, while not necessarily untrue or fraudulent, are difficult or impossible for the reader to verify. A number of other channeled documents address issues more immediately relevant to the human condition. The best of these writings are not only coherent and plausible, but eloquently persuasive and sometimes disarmingly moving.
New Agers are willing to absorb wisdom teachings wherever they can find them, whether from an Indian guru, a renegade Christian priest, an itinerant Buddhist monk, an experiential psychotherapist or a Native American shaman. They are eager to explore their own inner potential with a view to becoming part of a broader process of social transformation. Their journey is towards totality of being. By the early twenty-first century List of new-age music artists and List of ambient artists.
Writers who have espoused political ideas influenced by New Age perspectives included Mark Satin left and Benjamin Creme right. Indeed, if we were to examine some of the social and political threads that run through the aery fabric of New Age thinking, we would find certain themes that resonate with the necessary conditions for a left version of progressive individualism.
Generally speaking, New Age addresses its adherents as active participants, with a measure of control over their everyday lives. The New Age 'person' is also in many respects an individual whose personal growth is indissociable from the environment; a link fleshed out in a variety of ecotopian stories and romances. So, too, the small-scale imperative of New Age's cooperative communitarianism brings with it a host of potentially critical positions.
Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, p. The New Age Music Guide. Retrieved 27 September University Press of America, Chap. From Politics Past to Politics Future: Personal and Social Transformation in the s. Getting Saved from the Sixties: Moral Meaning in Conversion and Cultural Change. University of California Press, pp.
Seeds of the Seventies: University Press of New England, p. In Margit Mayer and John Ely, eds. Paradox Between Movement and Party. Temple University Press, p. Ecofeminists and the Greens. Temple University Press, pp. Washington Monthly , pp. The author is identified as the policy director of the Democratic Leadership Council. A New Book by Stephen Dinan ". Retrieved 3 March The New York Times , p. The Almanac of American Politics The New Republic , pp. Bruce Walsh, Mark Savickas.
Red Earth Press; The American Indian Quarterly issn. University of Nebraska Press. Paths to Transformational Politics". Theory, Study, and Practice. State University of New York Press, pp. What Is Transformational Politics? Despite not interacting directly with the average transit customer, employees have a strong sense of having a tangible effect on the daily lives of 8 million Londoners.
Given the constraints, TfL had to focus on making the challenge—the enormous task of moving an ever-growing population smoothly—meaningful to make the job compelling. Taking on challenges and facing uncertainty with enthusiasm also require a degree of confidence, in oneself and in the organization, that the outcome will be worth the effort. Without that belief, if the potential personal risk outweighs the perceived benefit—or if the organization has not demonstrated that it has the resources, capabilities, and commitment to take advantage of successful new approaches and to learn from unsuccessful attempts — employees may become cynical.
Passionate workers generally perceive greater benefit and support from their organizations than do their contented co-workers. The passionate are motivated intrinsically, learn more quickly, and tend to perceive personal benefits more broadly in the context of opportunities to learn and lack of punitive measures; 88 percent of the passionate believe that the organization supports their developing new skills to help them achieve long-term goals.
The second part of deciding if a pursuit is worth the effort depends upon whether the group or organization has demonstrated the will or ability to act on it. Yet while the passionate were more likely to express this optimism, it is also strongly associated with engagement. Returning to the idea of failure, researchers have found that the more we have riding on our judgments, professionally or psychologically, the more likely we are to ignore, reinterpret, and redirect our failures rather than learn from them, to question anything that casts doubt on our assumptions rather than question the assumptions themselves.
The problems are related and point to three ways in which executives can change the dynamic to begin to activate the latent passion in their workforce. Conveniently, these actions may also bolster those who are already passionate in your organization and will likely create a more encouraging environment for the halfhearted as well. If you act with passion, people will notice. This serves two purposes: First, by making your own passion visible, through action, you begin to create a culture that encourages others around you to embrace difficult problems and take risks.
More than words or mission statements, workers learn how work gets done by observing how their managers and leaders work. Perhaps more important than making experimentation and risk-taking acceptable or even expected is the practical value of providing examples for workers in real time. Second, your actions will start to attract other passionate workers.
Find and connect with others who are behaving with passion in the organization, and connect them with each other as well. Shine a light on their efforts, and your own, to demonstrate risk-taking, experimentation, and failing productively. Make their efforts more visible to your organization so that they, too, can lead by example. Drawing on your unique experiences with questing, connecting, and making an impact, brainstorm ways to spread passion, and work to build a culture of taking on challenges and learning.
Learn from the way they approach problems and opportunities. What would motivate me the same way these people are motivated? What would inspire this same level of commitment from me? How do you identify the passionate? Besides acting with passion yourself, which will tend to draw out other passionate workers, look for where someone is making waves or leading the charge, regardless of whether she has the title or role to do so.
The passionate are not likely to be the ones on official task forces, seeking approvals and buy-in and navigating the formal structures of the company. Others in the organization who are closer to the challenge will tend to know who is deeply interested in and committed to it, even if they view those people as obstacles or nuisances. Over time, connecting and elevating the passionate can create a positive feedback loop. The passionate draw in more people, and from this growing group, you can pull examples of efforts, successes, and failures and make them visible to the organization.
Others will begin to exercise their own passionate behaviors. With the majority of executives and management neither engaged nor passionate, commit to making a personal change, not just an organizational one. Understanding what matters not just to the customer, the product, or the company but to our partners, collaborators, and society and where to direct our efforts to create an impact is a prerequisite to finding meaningful challenges and making effective use of autonomy.
This is important given that most survey respondents see their workplaces as siloed. Cross-functional work and more direct collaboration with internal and external customers help workers to understand not only what the formal goals are but how smaller impacts add up to bigger ones. They get a better sense of why their individual projects matter, which can result in increased commitment; more importantly, seeing the bigger picture allows them to think about what they know and how to apply it to a potentially bigger issue.
There are many ways to encourage workers to work cross-functionally, but creating special teams to address specific challenges, such as a particular product constraint or a unique customer issue, is one way to kickstart that behavior in a way that is relevant and rewarding. Leaders can help employees frame powerful questions by being explicit about challenges and setting stretch goals. Meaningful challenges might be aligned with specific company goals. They might attack a key operating metric that drives cost; they could aim to drive revenue in a market or segment the company has targeted for growth.
In high-growth companies, high-impact challenges might address constraints or other obstacles to rapid growth. Setting useful context around significant challenges and providing clear overarching goals is critical in a company that still maintains much of the move fast, break things ethos it adopted as a start-up. For example, when the logistics company mentioned earlier reorganized its dispatchers to align with either groups of drivers or groups of customers rather than regions, the sense of impact and accountability changed. To support the growing business that was now serving external customers in a tight labor market, the leadership implemented new metrics focused on operations and profitability as well as customer service and driver satisfaction.
In their expanded role, the dispatchers also get to know the drivers or customers they are supporting and have better visibility into the impact of decisions both upstream and downstream. That type of frame-breaking is more difficult but can be aided by physical experiences and exposures to very different contexts that shake the comfortable base of expertise on which we tend to rely.
Facebook has a mechanism for busting silos and exposing employees to more perspectives that might also help them become more open to questioning their assumptions. When people return to their old teams, the result has thus far been increased informal sharing of ideas and information between teams. Beyond setting an example and helping make meaningful challenges more visible, cultivating a workforce that will take on the challenges of tomorrow requires more than just getting out of the way. Removing the factors that squelch passionate behaviors—overly prescriptive processes, mind-numbing reporting requirements, soul-crushing micromanagement—will help the passionate, and everyone else, but it might not be enough to cultivate passion.
Experimenting with relinquishing some control is a good way to start, though. Technology executive and investor Maynard Webb notes that relaxing control at then-start-up eBay was uncomfortable but worth it: But it was amazing how suddenly without our control structure, the engineers really took responsibility for deadlines. An important element of giving up some of the command-and-control mind-set is to help managers, especially those middle and frontline managers who tend to lag in passion, to take on more of a coaching role and to help their teams learn how to experiment and explore more effectively.
How can you provide space and flexibility that are appropriate and useful at different levels of the organization? Create an environment that offers more opportunities for learning, but focus on the types of learning that create new knowledge. Those who bring passion also need to continue to develop the skills to sustain it; those lacking passion need to develop the confidence and perspective that helps foster passionate behavior.
Does this mean that companies need to offer training programs in how to have passion? The answer is an emphatic no. However, some portion of your workforce might benefit from more guidance—and from role models who can serve as practical examples of how to quest, connect, and create impact.
It turns out that the skills to effectively quest and connect need not just space and permission but also some know-how, and much of that know-how is tacit and best learned through day-to-day interaction: Where do I find challenging opportunities? Could this bug I keep fixing in the marketing data be pointing to some useful insight on a new trend in social media campaigns?
Or to an opportunity in the cloud software? Similarly, a team member with a strong questing disposition can demonstrate through daily interactions how to frame a problem or design a small experiment to quickly test assumptions. Although the widespread preference across all clusters for on-the-job training points in the direction of more mentoring and opportunities for sharing and tacit learning, managers should encourage employees to seek learning from a wider variety of sources—for instance, the passionate were far more likely than the contented to rate informal networks, professional social networking sites, internal social platforms, and external boot camps and meet-ups as important sources of learning.
In this regard, the halfhearted fall far behind in recognizing the many informal learning opportunities in each workday. The way companies accelerate the learning that most often comes through experience will vary significantly, depending on the type of work and the skill level and experience of workers involved. Consider, for example, the logistics company that wants to grow its fleet. In an industry characterized by high turnover and concerns about safety and qualifications, the company has traditionally hired only drivers with two years of flatbed experience.
On the other end of the spectrum, GE, the company long synonymous with Six Sigma, has faced the need to, as GE culture leader Janice Semper puts it, learn how to take risks and accept mistakes as part of its transformation to refocus on the industrial Internet. In environments with a particularly strong culture of results and fear of failure, shifting attitudes might revolve first around eliminating disincentives: Practice is important to developing not just the specific skills needed to support autonomy but the ability to quest and connect effectively.
In such cases, tinkering might be an effective way to help employees get the practice to develop their passion. Of course, at organizations such as GE, creating an environment that leaves room for the possibility of failure might be an easier pill to swallow if we took the time to understand what it means to experiment effectively, with a goal in mind—to take risks intelligently and to fail productively. It helps to clarify what types of failure are acceptable and minimize those that are not. One of the obstacles to workers, managers, and leaders being comfortable with experimentation and failure is the fear of setting precedent.
When the world is knowable, stable, and controllable, then each experiment, each decision, is creating a new normal. Everything becomes what Jeff Bezos calls Type 1 decisions, requiring certainty and deliberation because they are permanent. In a broad environment that is moving rapidly in the direction of constant, accelerating change, how can you make the work environment for your unit or team reflect a world where precedents are less important and most decisions are assumed to be Type 2, subject to reversal or modification as new information becomes available?
How can you shift the mind-set to focus not on a whole new world each time but on just another iteration? In the face of rapid technological change and global competition for talent, capital, and customers, the answer to improving performance is not to squeeze harder. Companies will need to learn faster, and the learning that will matter most will be that which creates new knowledge. To learn faster, companies will need employees willing and able to take on challenging problems and pursue new opportunities.
To attract and retain this talent, companies will have to offer workers the opportunity to learn and develop themselves faster. Engagement alone, as it is often defined, will not develop this challenge-seeking, boundary-pushing behavior that will create new knowledge and new opportunities for the organization and the individual. Beginning to address these obstacles should help activate workers to discover their own passions and help to create a critical mass of passion that can gradually spread through the workforce.
A final point here comes in how we think about the environment itself: The tendency for many leaders and managers will be to read and accept these recommendations about encouraging experimentation and accepting failure and yet resist challenging their traditional, scalable command-and-control understanding of business. This is what many of us grew up with and were trained to manage. It is hard to displace the ideas that a well-run business will have highly standardized and repeatable operations that can execute to plan, and that advantage will go to those that reduce variance, eliminate waste, and reduce costs.
For many executives, the form of passion we have been describing may actually seem deeply suspect: However, if you truly understand the extent to which the world is changing and companies will need to be redesigned for the digital age, as 87 percent of executives claim to, 23 the need for workers with the passion of the explorer becomes critical. Passionate workers want to learn. Most importantly, they want to learn through action that leads to higher and higher levels of impact, taking them beyond the known and the proven.
This is why they are so focused on learning by creating new knowledge rather than simply accessing existing knowledge. They are not content to just read books or listen to lectures. Companies need workers who want to learn faster and continuously, who will be developing their own skills while propelling the company forward.