Passion On Purpose and the Communication Revolution


July 7, 2011

Like many professionals who descended on the SHRM 11 Annual Conference, I was there to consume information.  And consume, I did.

As I wrote a few days ago, the theme I heard emerge this year was centered around passion.  How we as HR leaders can inspire and capture passion in our employees so that we bring it into our organization every day.  I’ve shared how Zappos approaches creating passionate employees and it all starts with the customers.  But what about all of us who do not work at Zappos?  What can we do in our organization to jump start passion?

One of the sessions I was lucky enough to spend time in was Passion On Purpose with Ryan Estis.  If you have not met Ryan or heard him speak, take a moment and go to his site now. I mean it……you must check out his videos and blog then BOOK HIM TO SPEAK TO YOUR ORGANIZATION.

Ryan brings this fresh, exuberant approach to thinking about communication.  He peppers his dynamic speaking style with creative pictures and video.  But most impressive is the delivery of the tangible content.  I’ve seen more speakers in my career than I can count and Ryan will be one that stands out for years to come.  I love when speakers come out into the audience to connect. Ryan does this.  He looks you in the eye.  He holds you accountable for listening.  I won’t give away all the material but several ideas around igniting passion in employees struck a chord with me.

Promoting Passion In Your Organization

  • Leaders need to be storytellers who evangelize.  They have to be able to create a vision of an experience that the employees can relate to.
  • Leaders need to not only make sure the organization’s values are communicated, but that they are understood.  This is key.  Employees are 17 times more engaged when they know AND understand the values.
  • Ask employees throughout the organization what the mission and values are.  Can they articulate that?  If not, you need to create a communication strategy that will help teach them.
  • Leaders need to be aligned to a singular purpose.  If leaders of each part of the organization are focused on different priorities and goals, you will never reach the highest level of success.  By aligning to a singular purpose, you have all employees moving the organization toward one common goal and are far more likely to experience success.
  • Employees are changing in how and why they need communication.  Instead of talking AT employees as organizations have done for decades, employees want to be talked WITH.  Create ways to have a discussion rather than a one-way push of information.
  • Share what you care about.

Ryan challenged every participant to create an action plan of how we will personally take steps to create passion on purpose in our organizations.  It was extremely effective and was one of the best sessions I attended at SHRM Annual.

Are you taking steps to encourage passion in the workplace?  If not, why do you think this would or would not work in your organization?  Share with me in the comments….




  • Ryan is a tremendous speaker that I have had the pleasure of hearing several times. Extremely motivating and engaging. Trish is right, see him when you can.

  • Passion starts from the top. If the leader’s passion is only his/her bottom line, then the employees will have the same passion in relationship to themselves.

    I think of one instance in which I am very close: the “mission statement” speaks of “mutual prosperity”, yet the owner of the company only does things that benefit him. That’s fine, but when an opportunity comes along where the employee will feel more appreciated and will better economically benefit- you had better bet the said employee will jump to a place where s/he will grow and prosper.

    I do believe that the current workplace culture is quite slanted against the worker. Part of this philosophy can be attributed to the fact that unemployment is over 9%; however, if you have unhappy, demoralised workers, how do you expect to have good product? There is NO passion when the CEO is only passionate about the bottom line at the expense of customers AND employees.

  • Hey Trish – get insights. What I took away from 2011 SHRM was what Richard Branson called “taking care of the details” and what Zappos does by placing so much emphasis on culture=brand and brand=culture; sweat the small stuff when it comes to delivering flawless product/service and reward those who do it right!

    I think this conference was at a much higher thought level than previous. It was the right investment in time for me. Especially since we got to meet you!

    My best, Dyan

  • I agree with all of those stated above. Specially the part about talking WITH instead of AT employees. Oh, and the part about effectively communicating the company’s goals and vision. If the employees don’t understand these, they don’t get inspired. They forget what their job means and sometimes, this leads to depression, stress and lack of focus. (Which are all very costly for any company, according to this book Eventually, the end result is employees flying out of the company in the blink of an eye.

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About Trish

A former HR executive and HCM product leader with over 20 years of experience.


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