Managers and employees all want to be successful, motivated and happy at work. As you develop your leadership and management skills, you will learn to use a range of tools that will help you motivate your team. For example, most organisations offer some form of incentive, such as bonuses or other rewards, to help managers keep their teams focussed. But does employee motivation always originate from large scale, grand and/or costly gestures?
Psychologists Teresa Amabile and Steven Kramer studied 238 people working on creative teams in 7 organisations (collecting nearly 12,000 days of data) to find out what made them happy and successful at work and what did not. In their book, “The Progress Principle”, they describe what they learned about people’s ‘inner work lives’ and how managers can put that knowledge to work to increase engagement and improve performance. They found that when people consistently take even small steps forward on meaningful projects, they are more creative, productive, and engaged, and they have better relationships. In short, achieving and recognising regular small wins helps people have rich, engaged, and productive work lives.
Catalysts are managers’ actions which directly support progress in the work. They include things like providing clear goals, mechanisms for the flow of new ideas, and sufficient resources. Catalysts make it possible for workers to move forward in their work. The opposite of catalysts are Inhibitors, which serve to block progress. Research has shown that the most successful managers stay attuned to the progress and setbacks of their teams, and consistently support their progress every day.
Nourishers include actions like providing encouragement and recognition. Because they support positive perceptions and emotions of work, nourishers also lead to better performance. Toxins are the opposite of nourishers; they serve to poison inner work life.
So today, just make an effort to notice the small wins and see the effects on your team’s engagement and motivation. Then repeat!