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Loving Your Job Makes You Look Better In The Workplace

Datum:05 juni 2023
Auteur:Jinghao (Terrence) Zhang
Loving Your Job Makes You Look Better In The Workplace
Loving Your Job Makes You Look Better In The Workplace

“Why do you do this job?” The experience of questioning and reflecting on the meaning of work is inevitable for every adult. Some would say working is for money while others prefer to attain self-fulfillment. In academic literature, the former is usually characterized as extrinsic motivation or job orientation, and the latter mainly refers to intrinsic motivation or passion/calling orientation. It is widely acknowledged that those who are more intrinsically motivated to engage in work are more likely to achieve not only career success but also personal well-being and development. A typical explanation for this phenomenon is that people who are passionate about their work usually work hard and engage in more efforts to reach their work objectives.

Nonetheless, recent research indicated that this kind of passion-triggered desirable outcomes (e.g., job performance, career development) may not be caused necessarily by hardworking, but by being passionate about work. One study found that being passionate can misguide managers’ perceptions [1]. Employees who exhibit calling orientation can make their managers perceive higher performance and organizational commitment regardless of their actual performance. Surprisingly, such misperceptions eventually bring objective career success (e.g., bonus, raise, promotion). Another study further showed that pursuing passion can enhance performance rating especially when managers pursue passion as well [2]. This is because these managers emphasize and value passion more in the workplace and regard it as the criteria to evaluate their subordinates’ performance.

In addition to managers’ appreciation, passion for work also makes employees stand out among colleagues. Being passionate appropriately in cooperative contexts elicits others’ admiration and confers higher status. This status enhancement would in turn earn more support for those passionate workers [3]. Since “loving the job itself” has become a common narrative for positive evaluation, intrinsically motivated workers are considered to deserve more by those who love their jobs [4]. In this case, colleagues who work hard to earn money or raise their families may receive less help at work, because the orientation for extrinsic incentives makes them appear less motivated, thus less desirable. Viewing intrinsic motivation as normatively good, makes these colleagues seem bad.

All of the above tells us that “loving your job” brings visible advantages even if you don’t perform well. It can be seen as a positive signal of your attitude and create a halo effect for you. Thus, passion for work is an important merit in the workplace, no matter how well you really perform your job.


[1] Cho, Y., & Jiang, W. Y. (2022). How Work Orientation Impacts Objective Career Outcomes via Managerial (Mis) perceptions. Academy of Management Journal65(4), 1353-1382.

[2] Jachimowicz, J. M., Wihler, A., & Galinsky, A. D. (2022). My boss' passion matters as much as my own: The interpersonal dynamics of passion are a critical driver of performance evaluations. Journal of Organizational Behavior43(9), 1496-1515.

[3] Jachimowicz, J. M., To, C., Agasi, S., Côté, S., & Galinsky, A. D. (2019). The gravitational pull of expressing passion: When and how expressing passion elicits status conferral and support from others. Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes153, 41-62.

[4] Kwon, M., Lee Cunningham, J., & Jachimowicz, J. M. (2023). Discerning saints: Moralization of intrinsic motivation and selective prosociality at work. Academy of Management Journal, In Press.

Jinghao (Terrence) Zhang (terrence.zhang is a Ph.D. Candidate at the Department of Human Resource Management and Organizational Behavior. His research interest mainly involves improving management effectiveness and workplace humanization through leadership. At the University of Groningen, he works with Prof. Dr. Onne Janssen and Dr. Stefan Berger. His current PhD projects focus on the relationship between leadership and workplace objectification. One of his PhD projects explores how passion for work elicits workplace objectification and exploitation.