Today, I spoke to Alaina Love, who is a consultant, speaker and author of The Purpose Linked Organization. In this interview, Alaina talks about what people want in an employer, why having a sense of purpose at work matters, how managers build top talent and much more.
From the applicant perspective, what do most people want in an employer?
Most people are looking for more than just a job; they want to find a home within an organization, where their skills and passions have an outlet. That means applicants are looking for an environment in which they can accomplish meaningful work, be fairly rewarded and recognized for it, and have an opportunity to grow. In our experience, it’s also important for applicants to find an employer whose value system resonates with their own.
If there is an outlet for employee skills, individuals develop confidence in their work; when there is an outlet for employee passions, they feel a sense of excitement and vibrancy about their work; and when employee values are aligned with the organization’s values, it builds a level of trust between individuals and their employer. Working at the intersect of these three –skills, passions and values– is the zone of peak performance.
Why should employees care about having a sense of purpose while working for a company?
Most of us devote more than 84,000 hours of our lives to work! That’s way too much time to spend not feeling relevant or fulfilled. Companies should also care about employees having a sense of purpose, because that’s when passions shine through and the organization reaps great benefits from employees’ discretionary efforts. That ratchets up the ROI in human capital significantly.
How do managers discover and support the best talent in a company? What perks to high-potential employees get?
The best way for any manager to discover and support talent in an organization is to first create an environment where employees can flourish. That means being devoted to creating a culture that encourages the alignment of skills, passions and values to work roles. In that environment, talent will shine through; the manager will not have to go searching for it.
The second important step is for managers to develop a deep understanding of each person on the team and what they can contribute, which requires that managers maintain a dialogue with their employees, to discover what they are passionate about and how they would like to contribute to the organization. The most motivating perk that an organization can provide to high potential employees is investing in their ongoing development and then giving them an opportunity to make a contribution. When this winning formula is applied, success follows, with all of its tangible and psychological rewards.
What happens if you accept a job and then after a few months, you figure out that you aren’t passionate about it. Should you keep working there or quit?
Our first recommendation in such a case would be for the individual to deeply examine why they are unhappy in the job. Many people spend much of their work life floating from one position to another, without doing the “inner work” first. Taking time to understand your own passions and skills makes it much more likely that you are able to discover an outlet for them in your work.
A person in this situation needs to be able to describe how they would change the job to make it more fulfilling. It is then important and beneficial, (for both the individual and the company) for the person to have a discussion with their manager to explore how the job might be re-shaped. Ultimately, when we work from our passions, we each leave our own unique mark on the job; so that no two individuals will do the same job in exactly the same way. Since organizations have a vested interest in maximizing each person’s contribution, smart managers will welcome this dialogue. We see the option of leaving the job only as a last resort.
The Passion Profiler™ is a groundbreaking tool that identifies and measures ten unique passions, examines how those passions relate to one’s work, identifies one’s affiliation to their organization, measures an individual’s propensity to reflect contemplatively, and predicts the impact that one’s passions will have on organizational knowledge. The instrument, offered online, is grounded in the field of positive psychology and based on the concept that we each carry an inner purpose that becomes expressed externally as our passions.
We describe the passions as “archetypes”, which are profiles such as: the Builder, the Creator, the Teacher, the Transformer and others. Each of these archetypes plays a unique role in the work environment and impact how teams operate, how knowledge is created and utilized and ultimately, how business results are generated. Our book offers readers access to the Passion Profiler™, which will provide a special report highlighting their top three passion archetypes. Through the book, individuals may then explore how to apply those passions to their work.
Alaina Love is a consultant, writer, speaker, and the president of Purpose Linked Consulting, a leadership and organization development firm. Prior to founding PLC, Love spent more than twelve years at Merck & Co., Inc. where she was executive director of human resources (worldwide), a research scientist and clinical researcher. Love now provides a broad range of leadership, team and organization development services to clients around the world, including The Passion Profile, a comprehensive tool used by PLC to assess individuals’ work-related passions. She is co-author of the McGraw-Hill book, The Purpose Linked Organization: How Passionate Leaders Inspire Winning Teams and Great Results. She is also a BusinessWeek.com management columnist.