I’ve learned how leader value passion roughly two decades back, when I was fresh of the university and just started working. One day my then manager took me out for dinner, though it was a common practice in that company to build team spirit, during the dinner, she pointed out that she’s noticed that I was not as passionate as I was when I started the job. I was focusing a lot more on my deliverables, and was not engaged in other activities that would have made the work more enjoyable, and as my leader, she noticed the lack of passionate creativity that I was engaged in earlier in my job; creativity was valued a lot in that company, as it helped the company establish global footprint through innovative products. That was my first lesson in value of passion at work, and even now I value it for sure. So, when I look for a Project Manager to lead my projects, in addition to skills, I also look for the ‘spark’ that the person may have, which may ignite the passion for the work that the person will do. In project management world, where things change every day and challenges pop up everywhere, passion plays a big role to help us drive the project forward.
Why passion at work is important for delivering projects?
Fosters Creativity and Innovation
We all know that a good project manager is always full of energy, an energetic project manager will transfer their energy to the project team members, energize them to focus on delivery of their assignments. When we are passionate of our work and our projects, we always find the energy to do a bit extra more, an extra call to make sure we’re progressing as per our project schedule, an extra call to stakeholders to ensure they’re updated, or just an extra note to the team members to appreciate them. Passion creates a zeal for the project completion, giving us the zest to keep trying until we reach our goals. It keeps us going under the pressure we face everyday during the project execution, pushes to be our best and continue striving towards the project completion.
Make Work Fun
Happy project team is a productive project team, they get more work done, while still enjoying the work. When we spend our days doing something that we are passionate about, we actually doing the work. It improves the team spirit among the project team members, motivating them, and bringing joy to the work. It also enables the project manager to get along better with others, avoids creating more tension and turmoil, and reduces the stress of being in a project with a tight timeline.
Better Project Deliverables
When project team members and the project manager are passionate about their project, they will bring in added value to the project itself. Although passion alone cannot guarantee work quality, the project team members who enjoy being part of the project can have significant impact on how efficiently the project runs. They also try their best to deliver quality services or products, within the project timeline, to meet the stakeholders need.
How to foster passion in project teams?
Make Passion for Work a Priority
From the hiring stage to the selection of the project team members, the Program Leader should look for the passion in the team member, in addition to other skills and experiences. Passionate team members will have shorter learning curve, and higher productivity. It is also important not to lose focus on the importance of the passion at work, and support the employees to ensure they are still passionate about the deliverables. Passion is a type of emotion, though we sometimes focus a lot on deliverables, we need to encourage the project team members to get engaged in other ways as well, including taking additional interesting roles, encouraging them to find a creative solution, or acknowledge their contribution.
Overcome the Challenges
Sometimes even the most passionate team member can lose their passion when the cannot get the work done, get roadblocked by others or just get discouraged. A leader needs to break down the barriers, encourage cross-functional discussion, help the team members deliver so that they can continue to be passionate about their work. However, interesting note is that, it is also equally important to have the passionate project/program leaders, passion is infectious, when project team members find passion in their leaders, they also naturally feel encouraged to be passionate at work.
Sometimes, the project team members need to make time so that they can work on their passion; passion requires time, and many employees struggle to find the time for it. To encourage the team members to be more passionate, both at work and outside work, the program leaders can work with them to create the flexiblity of work. With remote work being more common, it is less of a challenge than pre-pandemic time, however we still need to encourage team members to take time to learn something that they’re passionate about, or do something they want to do, in addition to the project deliverables. Another way the program leaders can take steps to encourage passion among project leaders is to encourage them to share their passion with their other team members. It will not only improve their morale, but also improve their team spirit as their bond will be stronger.
There are many interesting articles about passion and how to foster it, I’ve just summarized a few for the folks to read quickly.