What Kind of Dirt are You?

People are like dirt.  They can either nourish you and help you grow as a person or they can stunt your growth and make you wilt and die.                                           Plato

Are you nourishing your employees or are you making them wilt and die…..or quit?  In their book The Progress Principle: Using Small Wins to Ignite Joy, Engagement, and Creativity at Work, Amabile and Kramer found that while employee motivation has been a keen topic of interest for decades, most managers don’t really get it.  Ask your managers – what do you do to make sure that our employees are motivated, committed, and happy?  You will likely get a wide range of answers, if not utter silence.

Amablie and Kramer have determined that catalysts and nourishers will motivate employees to have more progress days and higher overall achievement and job satisfaction.  A catalyst is an action that supports work:

  • Setting clear goals
  • Allowing autonomy
  • Providing sufficient resources
  • Providing sufficient time
  • Helping with the work
  • Openly learning from problems and successes
  • Allowing for free exchange of ideas

The opposite of each of these catalysts is an inhibitor such as failing to support the work or even interfering with the work.  Catalysts and inhibitors have a great impact on progress and therefore ultimately affect inner work life.

Further, when people realize that they have most or all of the catalysts above, their emotions, motivations and perceptions are all elevated which leads to greater productivity and work satisfaction.

Nourishers are elements of interpersonal support such as:

  • respect
  • recognition
  • encouragement
  • emotional comfort
  • networking

Again, this is information we probably know but event the most seasoned managers forget these tools.  It is often the immediate tasks and looming deadlines that capture our attention.  However, attending to these catalysts and nourishers will lend greater meaning to the employees’ work and amplify the progress principle.  In our next blog we will look at a checklist to examine our employee support plan and see an example of successful progress principle management.


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