Finding The Passion Pays Big Dividends

How many times have you hired people thinking they’d do a great job, only to find it not working out as planned? Either they just didn’t get it together, didn’t get along with others or didn’t deliver a good work product. So you send them packing.

This can be counted as a bad investment on both ends: the time spent training and the missed opportunity for them to achieve the satisfaction they were seeking. Worse still, you put someone out on the street who knows your organization better than anyone at your competition, and guess what? That’s where they land.

There’s no way to know whether your next hire will be a superstar. In fact, your odds aren’t great: A study by Leadership IQ finds that 46 percent of new hires fail within 18 months, and only 19 percent will achieve unequivocal success. As you go through the process, you rely on their resume, interview, the recommendation of others, and any hidden sign of passion -- all reasonable indicators, but you still don’t know until you put the person to the test. From there, you hope the new hires will blossom into stardom, increasing productivity, revenue and profits.

…But then they don’t.

More times than not, the people you hire will just do their jobs. Sure, they want to do well and succeed for their own pride and your praise, but often that passion is missing. Passion leads to curiosity for what you can become and love for what you do – in effect never “working” a day in your life.

But why is this important?

The people you hire represent an investment, not an expense. If you invest in them, taking the time to observe how the interact, asking how they feel about their responsibilities (note that I did not say “job”) and learning about their personal likes, dislikes, successes and failures, together you can discover where their passion actually lies.

It doesn’t matter what went wrong, but rather what you do next. We don’t do exit interviews until we’ve thoroughly considered other opportunities within the organization. What’s more, we encourage all employees to raise their hands to be considered for different positions. This often leads to a more rewarding experience for them, and a better situation for us by having people with a better overall understanding for our business.

Taking an underperformer and transitioning to an alternate position is often less risky and less costly than starting from scratch and looking outside. Also, giving people another chance to find their passion sends a strong message about how you treat people, perceive the relationship and operate as an organization.

Naturally, the “alternate position” approach is not always appropriate and doesn’t always work. And make no mistake, terminating a person is a hard decision but sometimes the only decision to make.

Yet we can attest to a number of staff members who are happier in their second and third assignments, do a far better job, provide more value than before, and have a higher regard for the company. More than ever, they have the passion to prove they are an integral part of our team.

It’s too easy sometimes to cut your losses and move on. But think twice before you act – the benefits often can be plentiful for both the individual and the company.


Dick Kalt
Executive Vice President