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The Progress Principle: Using Small Wins to Ignite Joy, Engagement, and Creativity at Work by Teresa Amabile and Steven Kramer

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Researchers from Harvard assessed the themes from employees at different levels of management from several different business organisations. They assessed 11,637 diary entries from 26 teams and 238 participants. Somehow they manage to get them to respond (I can’t comprehend how they managed to actually get people to complete these diaries), with also regular questionnaires. Data analysed with quantitative and qualitative techniques to establish ways to gain progress in business. People responded about what motivated them when working in an organisation, they then anonymized the names of the companies.

This led to breaking down components of motivation, inner work life and highlights the fact that motivation can be internally or externally driven

You can risk overdriving someone, particularly if you consistently attempt to externally drive them by reminding them of deadlines. This external motivation can undermine their internal motivation and be detrimental.

Employees that are happy are more productive. Be aware of different people’s personality traits and different ways in which they become happier. Employees tend to gain more insights and breakthroughs when happy and internally motivated. To increase internal satisfaction it is important to obtain meaningful progress on tasks. Setbacks are a loss of progress, be aware these are much more detrimental than the beneficial effects of progress, around three times worse.

A good manager removes barriers, highlights the importance of a task and assists progress. Provide employees with autonomy and do not be hard on them when they make mistakes. The importance of time pressures is mentioned, if you have a lot of time with no guidance this is not great for productivity. The day full of urgent business with high time pressures is a recipe for burnout. Ideally aim for low to moderate time pressures with intermittent periods of urgency to obtain the most from your staff.

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