Here’s an interesting question that you may have come across in the not-for-profit world: does passion trump skills/professionalism when hiring? While this may not be a question that is unique to the not-for-profit world, it may be a somewhat more important, or relevant, than in the “for profit” world.
Here’s my two cents: it’s not an “either-or” proposition – it’s a balancing act – perhaps one that is more critical in the not for profit sector, which needs to be even more effective and efficient with its resources – people and otherwise. That means you need to have skills first and passion second.
Passion and enthusiasm are desirable attributes when hiring, but perhaps even more so in not for profit. But the risk of choosing passion over professionalism may be potentially higher in this sector, which often attracts – and is perhaps enticed by – enthusiastic candidates with a connection to the cause.
But passion alone can’t cut it – it can only take you so far. The person you hire also needs to be able to cut it technically, or else you create dysfunction and end up with an organization that is unable to execute on its mission because it doesn’t have the right skill set(s) in place. You end up with a gap created by the resulting unfulfilled need, creating an unnecessary drain on the organization – one which it can’t afford.
At the same time, skills alone will only take you so far. You risk ending up with an employee who has the “it’s just a job” mindset. Sure you can learn skills, and you can’t teach passion. But passion alone will not go a long way. Perhaps you can “manage” passion and foster the development of required skills, but at what cost? Particularly in the not for profit sector where there is not the luxury of time – or perhaps other skills – to teach.
Admittedly, a passionate employee will likely stick around longer because of their inherent motivation by the mission and the work of the charity, but if the trade-off is lost efficiency and effectiveness and the lack of time or resources to train or mentor the incumbent, then the organization loses out. So experience does matter – it’s simply price of entry. And passion can make the difference – perhaps the deciding factor when choosing between candidates.
But remember, passion isn’t just reserved for the not for profit sector. What company wouldn’t want someone who is passionate about the company, the product, the service? Arguably, it’s probably more critical to get the balance right in the not-for-profit world where it might be tempting to pick passion over professionalism.
What do you think…passion or professionalism?