Passion – The key to engagement for IT?

Passion - key to engagement?

Passion - key to engagement?Passion.

What type of emotion is evoked when you read it or hear that word?

What do you think of when you think of passion?

Do you think about your job?  The company you work for?  Finishing up the big project you’re working on?


Do you think about many other things outside of your job.  Do you think about your kids?  The latest movie release?   New York bestsellers…or writing the next one?

Chances are, you think about something outside of your job…unless you’re one of the lucky folks in this world who get to do what they love.  People like wildlife photographer Moose Peterson. People like Chris Guillebeau who have decided to make their own way in the world by doing what they love to do.

Do what you love?

I’m not going to write another article about “Doing what you love.”  Paul Graham has a good one on that subject as do many others.  Gary Vaynerchuk screams about the topic to anyone who will listen. Jonathan Fields has written a book about being a Career Renegada and doing what you love (amazon affiliate link). Penelope Trunk hits the topic from another side saying that its bad career advice to tell people to ‘do what you love.’   I tend to agree with both approaches…if you can get paid for doing what you love, do it…if not, find ways to make a living while also pursuing what you love to do.

This isn’t one of those feel good articles about finding your purpose and your passion.  You can find many of those out in the interwebs. This article is just a quick reminder that passion can play a larger role in making your crappy job a little bit better.  Passion can help your boss be a better boss. Passion can help your company increase profits.  Passion can help you realize that your job really isn’t that bad.

How can passion do all these things?  Find those things that people love to do…and find ways to allow them to do it in their job.

Simple right?  Not really…its harder than it sounds…but worth pursuing.

Passionate Employees are Happy Employees

Zappos is a good example of a passion driven company as reported in Delivering Happiness (amazon affiliate link). There are many other good examples that can be found out there for people in retail,  consumer goods and beer.

Passionate employees are happy. Passionate employees are excited.  Passionate employees are engaged.   The Power of Pull (amazon affiliate link) provides a ton of good examples of how passion has helped organizations.  Great book… you should check it out.

How can you use passion to improve your job, your team and your company?  I don’t know the answer but I can tell you that passion can help turn your job into something a bit more enjoyable and, as a manager, passion can help you turn your unengaged employees into engaged, excited and driven employees.

And you know something…there’s a lot of passionate people working in every organization.  We just have to find what their passion is and then find ways to embrace that passion.  Of course, if someone’s passion is making sculptures out of cow manure, you might want to find other ways to engage that particular person.

Want to know a secret about modern day organizations?  There’s one group of people within every company that has a thriving and driving passion…but many aren’t allowed to fully engage their passion at work due to being overworked and process-bound.

What area is that?  The IT group of course.

Passion – At the heart of IT

Think about it.

How many people working in IT started playing around with computers because they loved them?  How many people took a job in IT because they loved technology?

How many people in IT do you know that hate computers?  Hate technology? I know a few…but they are outliers and not the norm.

Most people that I know in IT absolutely love technology. They love tweaking computers. They love learning about new technology. But yet…the majority of IT workers that I know aren’t 100% engaged in their work. They do what needs to be done to make it through the day. They ‘get by’.

What the hell have we done to our IT employees that has driven the passion away from one thing they’ve been passionate about their entire lives?

Its a heck of a question, isn’t it?

Most IT workers are overloaded, overworked and under-appreciated. Most IT workers dont’ have an opportunity to do anything more than keep the servers and networks running.

Perhaps that’s what we’ve done to our IT employees (and perhaps all employees?)….maybe we’ve allowed our drive to lower costs, improve productivity and increase market share to blind us so that we’ve forgotten that our employees are why we are where we are today.

Its time to bring passion back to the business world…and especially back to the IT world.    We’ve got a gazillion people in IT that used to love their jobs…and they could again.

Find a way to re-energize your IT group.  Find a way to allow them to find their passion.  Then…step back and be amazed at what they will do.

18 responses to “Passion – The key to engagement for IT?”

  1. Passion – The key to engagement for IT? via @EricDBrown

  2. Eric D. Brown

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  7. Richard Harbridge Avatar

    “Most people that I know in IT absolutely love technology. They love tweaking computers. They love learning about new technology.”

    I think you made a really good point here in that one of the issues is that IT employees typically aren’t given the same ‘entrepreneurial’ spirit they might have previously had.

    In my personal opinion it’s creating this sense of entrepreneur spirit in IT (I wonder if there is a better way we could do X or Y) that leads to passion and business benefit. The difficulty is that in the past IT ‘alignment’ with business return/goals was called into question and often found to be loose.

    Now that we have focused for so long on ‘alignment’ and waste reduction it’s only natural that it might be time to swing a little bit the other way from time to time. IT is one of the best places in the business for finding innovation in my opinion due to the massive amounts of learning and ‘new’ methodologies/technologies they employ. Perhaps a way of doing this is setting those ‘entrepreneur’ related activities up as innovation incentive ones, or driven by the same aspects.


    1. Eric D. Brown, D.Sc. Avatar

      Excellent point Richard.

      The entrepreneurial spirit is missing in the IT group. I can’t think of one single example from my experiences where the IT group has been an entrepreneurial one. I’ve seen many talk about driving innovation but in reality, they are just implementing projects driven by other parts of the organization.

      Great point Richard…thanks for sharing!

  8. No podia estar mas de acuerdo. Passion at work, how

  9. Bill Bennett Avatar

    I know you are sincere and mean well, but passion is such a cliché in business that it ceases to have any sensible meaning.

    Instead it gets used almost like a weapon to bludgeon people into submission. These days I’m self-employed, but when I worked for a large company and heard a senior manager use the term passion, it knew it was time to run for the nearest exit.

    1. Eric D. Brown, D.Sc. Avatar

      Hi Bill –

      Passion can be over-used…although in the IT space, I haven’t heard it used much at all.

      Sure…perhaps it is a buzzword. Engagement is too. But…when you walk into a room full of IT professionals and all are staring at you like mindless zombies and very few of them are enjoying their jobs / careers, there’s obviously something seriously wrong.

      Now…would I walk into that room and ask “hey everyone…how can we find your passion?”. Nope.

      Would I have a one-on-one with each person in that room to try to find out what makes them tick and why? Yes.

      Find out what makes your team tick (i.e., their passions and underlying goals in life) and try to help them find ways to incorporate that into their daily work-life.

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