Derek is a "hotdogger" for Oscar Mayer. He believes in the brand—so much so, that he got it tattooed on his arm. Derek is a passionate employee. Would you hire him?
There are actually few organizations that can support passionate employees—even if they say they want them. That's because the original industrial revolution was designed to support productivity. Productivity means you produce. That's how you're measured. Passion is difficult to quantify, and yet if you ever talk to teams who have produced break through products and innovative solutions—you know it was there. Passionate employees believe in something bigger than themselves. They're not interested in punching the clock, and sometimes they bend the rules.
Managers want passionate employees, but don't always know how to manage them. Passionate employees question things, probe and push. Who's got the time to deal with that? Productive employees get things done. No questions asked.
Deep down inside we know we need both—the question is do you have the right balance, and if you've got a few passionate employees on your hands, do you know how to motivate them? If Derek had the gumption to tattoo your brand on his arm, what else is he capable of doing? If you hire someone who lives and breathes the internet, they might be social networking on your dime. If you hire a sports fanatic, they might sneak in a game on the computer you provided them.
And if you align someone's passion with their job description—you just might boost your department's productivity. And that's where it gets interesting.