One of the biggest problem employers have is they are not able to find / or get their team passionate about what they do. And the biggest problem employees have they are not passionate about their 9 – 5 either. Quite silly if you think about it isn’t it?
So, I guess everyone should take a chill pill and get a compass to find what they really like. Off course that is easier said than done, but it’s not as hard as we often think it is either.
Finding what makes you happy
While we all would assume spending days on a resort sipping margaritas would make us happy, I think that happiness might not last long. We are driven by purpose, and just having fun is no purpose. As human beings we are wired to work towards a higher purpose, that’s how our species survived and how success is achieved.
To recap we need purpose which has to be selfless. So how to find that purpose? I wouldn’t imagine for there to be a silver bullet for this. However, here are a few ways that might help.
Find what activities you absolutely dislike or hate to do. I’m mentioning these early on as these are easily spotted. For example, for me doing brain dead work is something I hate. How do I know this? I tried doing brain dead work on multiple occasions and very diverse activities, the only common thing in them was brain dead, and it absolutely pissed me off. So, anything which does not have to do with deep thinking, that’s a big ‘no’ for me.
Next try finding what things you like to do. These are sometimes not as easily spotted but can be done with little attention. Again, I tried to figure out what activities made me happy (apart from watching Dwyane Johnson and Leonardo Decaprio’s acting). As a child I remember I loved to play with Lego or board games like monopoly. Growing up real time strategy was my thing. And during my engineering years I found my true love, programming. What was common in all of these though was building things (which off course needed thinking).
Having these few points, it was rather easy to find something I was passionate about. I must admit, I was not assertive in always doing what I loved, rather always played the hand I was given, but tried to somehow find something, in my subconscious, understanding I had developed for things I disliked and loved to do. And over time eventually I found an industry I could be passionate about and loved working in every minute of my life – Becoming a technical tester. Which meant not just learning automation and programming, but also learning how different software products were developed and worked inside out.
The employer’s dilemma
Now for the two groups we talked about earlier, the employee and the employer, how should they deal with this? Here’s my experience:
When hiring, employers tend to publish a ‘thesis’ of skills they’d like to see in the unicorn candidate, even if most of the skills mentioned might never be used in the candidate’s entire tenure. I find this to be very destructive and a waste of time for everyone.
Focus on the very few skills you want the candidates to be good at, and ONE they have to be passionate about. If they love doing the job you want them to do, they’ll be self driven and motivated. But the problem there is, not everyone has enough self awareness to know what they are passionate about. So, you’d have to judge for yourself if they are passionate about the subject matter you are interested in. My thoughts on hiring automation engineers can be read here.
Giving motivational talk about following your passion sounds very nice, but walking the talk is quite different. Finding a career that you love working in is not easy. I know passion does not pay bills. You have to play the hand you are given, but never loose sight of where you want to go.
A great example of this is James Dicks. I stumbled upon his profile by chance on Linkedin and was confused for a while going through his career history. On reaching out to him I found he was always passionate about flying. But to get there he needed a lot of money to get flight school training. So, he started working as a software developer. After years of writing code and injecting cash into his pilot training dream, he finally was managed to complete his flying hours and start commercial flying with Emirates and now Britsh Airways!
While this fairy tale might seem a far-fetched reality, it’s not as much if you think about it. The human body is highly adaptive to any circumstance. So long as you are moving towards your goal, serotonin (a chemical in our blood) will give the motivation you need from time to time.
Bridging the gap
Hiring a person or getting hired is not about if someone is good enough or not, it’s about aligning values and aspirations. Employers should give more weightage to attitude, which means looking for aligning values. For candidates understanding the company’s vision, values and culture would help them decide.
Monetary compensation is not mentioned here, because that’s a given. While this is a tricky thing to manage on both sides of the fence, fair compensation for the skill set needed and brought to the table can be used as a general guideline to follow.
While hiring passionate knowledge workers is the hardest part of running a business, it is the most crucial too. In the age of information, knowledge, experience and skill is the king. The only thing which will off-set that difference is attitude and passion. For an employer. having a team passionate about your goals, and for an employee, working with a team in alignment with your values is the ultimate prize.