Stop the Madness! – The Progress Principle

In our last few blogs we examined the four ways that managers unwittingly drain the meaning out of their employees’ work.  Not only does this lead to a demoralized staff, but diminishing productivity and overall organizational well-being.  Of course we won’t leave you with the doom and gloom – there is something you can do other than the not doing we just discussed.

In The Progress Principle: Using Small Wins to Ignite Joy, Teresa Amabile and Steven Kramer show how to truly engage our workers and enable them to see their own progress.  For almost 15 years the researchers studied the experiences and performance of individuals doing complex jobs.  They discovered the progress principle – the single most important factor in making a job meaningful.

While many things can contribute to a positive work experience – emotions, internal and external motivation and perceptions – progress is the most significant.  A simple principle was uncovered – the more frequently individuals experience a sense of progress; the more likely they are to be creatively productive.  Small wins can make all the difference.

This principle gives us as managers a clear focus and encouragement – we have significant influence over our employees’ motivation and creative output through catalyzing and nourishing progress.  We will look at how to leverage this progress in our next few blogs to learn how to motivate our employees with a new perspective and new behaviors.


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