In my book Lead Big: Discovering the Upside of Unconventional Leadership, I talk about the findings of a Harvard Business Review study that focused on the question “What Happens on a Great Workday?”
Many have asked…What were the results of this study and how did they influence your leadership practices?
One of the Harvard Business Review Breakthrough Ideas for 2010 came from Teresa Amabile and Steven Kramer.
They conducted a survey of 600 managers from a broad array of companies to rank the impact on employee motivation and emotions in five categories: recognition, incentives, interpersonal support, support for making progress, and clear goals.
In other words, they wanted to surmise exactly what it was that inspired and motivated employees. The 600 managers ranked “recognition for good work (either public or private)” as number one.
Did employees agree? Surprisingly, no. Based on a multiyear study that tracked the day-to-day activities, emotions, and motivation levels of hundreds of knowledge workers, the top motivator of performance was progress.
Yes, that’s right, progress—reaching goals, checking things off the list, solving problems. Employees of the study were asked to answer the question, “What Happens on a Great Workday?”
They answered…Making progress—even incremental progress—was more frequently associated with positive emotions and high motivation than any other workday event. In other words Getting things done—feeling movement in the right direction—
Amabile and Kramer go on to say that leaders should be ecstatic about this news. It means that key drivers of performance are largely within the leader’s control and do not depend on elaborate or expensive incentive systems.
“Managers have powerful influence over events that facilitate or undermine progress.” They can provide meaningful goals, resources, and encouragement, and they can impede progress by changing goals autocratically, being indecisive, or holding up resources.
I experienced the same findings personally and while leading teams throughout my journey also.
Have you ever taken a dog for a walk using a leash? Do you notice what happens when you unleash them? they explode…they ignite – they advance.
Employees – People are the same way – they want to be trusted – they want to be unleashed – they want to be allowed to do the job they were hired to do and PROGRESS – ADVANCE