I spoke recently, on separate occasions, to a couple of colleagues now at major research buyers. Interestingly, both commented on what they saw as a ‘decline in passion’ from all but their most specialised (i.e. smaller or niche) suppliers.
Both felt that, as well as the harder times in the market economies generally bringing everyone down, the organisational changes arising from consolidation in the industry may also be playing a part in this emotional change. In particular, the increased prevalence of personnel policies, necessitated by organisational complexity, was thought to be a key factor. The structures imposed by such were driving the ‘star players’ upwards (to staff roles) or outwards at many of the larger companies in favour of safe but not necessarily inspiring performers.
There seemed to be a lack of discrimination between those with a passionate commitment to good research and those who were otherwise, for want of a better term, prima donnas. Dynamic research agencies thrive on talent and special performers. No-one who is any good and has a new dimension to add to the organisation is going to be compliant and passive. A top agency MD can handle and motivate those people in the same way a great football manager can blend the geniuses and journeymen into a championship winning side.
However, there is tendency to lump the dedicated and the self-centred together and label them both as ‘high maintenance’. There’s a crucial difference in being high maintenance and displaying passion often unseen by those who lack the latter. High maintenance is all about ‘me’ and expecting everyone else to be also; the passionate only want the best for the company and can’t see why others don’t want the same. It is vital to identify (and reward) those committed to doing great work and those committed to taking the credit for it. In many cases, only those who have done the former, themselves, can recognise it;it’s a risk leaving the judgement solely to those who skill is in constructing the reward and recognition systems alone.
So leave some room in the side for the passionate. If you’re not careful and overlook or deliberately avoid this you’ll find yourself competing with some highly motivated researchers who should be part of the team driving your business today.