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The Progress Principle: Using Small Wins to Ignite Joy, Engagement, and Creativity at Work Hardcover – July 19, 2011
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"Enlightenment Now: The Case for Reason, Science, Humanism, and Progress"
Is the world really falling apart? Is the ideal of progress obsolete? Cognitive scientist and public intellectual Steven Pinker urges us to step back from the gory headlines and prophecies of doom, and instead, follow the data: In seventy-five jaw-dropping graphs, Pinker shows that life, health, prosperity, safety, peace, knowledge, and happiness are on the rise. Learn more
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In The Progress Principle, Teresa Amabile and Steven Kramer have provided an inspiring combination of solid scientific research and management insight. They have succeeded in bringing to life a new paradigm in management, fully supported and elegantly presented.” Research-Technology Management
This practical orientation for managers makes the book an important resource for organizations experiencing a decline in productivity and employee engagement.” CHOICE Magazine
Filled with honest, real-life examples, compelling insights, and practical advice, The Progress Principle equips aspiring and seasoned leaders alike with the guidance they need to maximize people’s performance.” - Innovation Watch
"The Progress Principle by Teresa Amabile and Steven Kramer is a masterpiece of evidence-based managementthe strongest argument I know that "the big things are the little things." A masterpiece every manager should have...I believe it is one of the most important business books ever written." Bob Sutton
The book...is one of the best business books I’ve read in many years.” Daniel Pink
But in singling out one book that offers the most important message for managers this year, I recommend The Progress Principle. The breakthrough in knowledge it provides makes it my choice as best business book of the year. This a pioneering work on employee engagement, with lots of memorable examples culled from those in-the-trenches diary entries.” The Globe and Mail
You will never return to the older and outmoded theories of employee motivation again.” Blog Business World
When Bob Sutton, a leading management professor at Stanford University, says a new book just might be the most important business book I’ve ever read,” the rest of us should take notice. Sutton is right. The Progress Principle is...fantastic. I am a big fan of this book, and I have decided to make it one of the alternate end-of-semester book assignments for the master’s students in my introductory public management course this fall.” Steve Kelman, Federal Computer Week
This is the roadmap to how to create progress, even baby steps through small wins, and therefore create a culture that supports a meaningful and joyful inner work life”, which is the secret to great leadership and harnessing the best of employee psychology.” Innovative Influence (Suzi Pomerantz's Blog)
Those who appreciate the work of people like Dan Pink (Drive), Chip Conley (Peak) should seriously consider adding The Progress Principle as the third member of a very compelling trio of books offering just about everything you need to know about tapping the deepest wells of human creative performance.” Matthew E. May, Guru Forum (American Express)
the authors have done a good job in reminding us all that "it’s people, stupid" who lie at the heart of successful organisations.” Nita Clarke, People Management Magazine (UK)
This book is a must read for those wants to be good leaders (or those wishing they worked for one).” - LeaderLab
It’s a clear guide that can help managers with a potentially challenging and frustrating task.”- 800CEOREAD
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The authors conducted a rigorous analysis of nearly 12,000 daily diary entries provided by 200+ employees in 7 companies. They found that the best managers create a high quality of "inner work life" for their employees. Inner work life is about favorable and unfavorable perceptions employees have about their managers, the organization, the team, the work and even oneself. A positive inner work life determines whether the employee has the motivation to their best work - it determines their attention to tasks, the level of their engagement and their intention to deliver their best work.
The authors found that there are 3 types of events that are particularly important in creating a positive inner work life:
1) Progress in meaningful work (e.g. small wins, breakthroughs, forward movement, goal completion),
2) Catalysts that directly help work (setting clear goals, allowing autonomy, providing resources, providing sufficient time, helping with the work, learning from problems and successes, allows ideas to flow),
3) Nourishers/interpersonal events (e.g. respect, encouragement, emotional support, affiliation/bonds of mutual trust & appreciation) that uplift people doing the work.
Research found that #1, progress in meaningful work, was the most important event in creating a positive inner work life.
People's inner work lives seemed to lift or drag depending on whether or not their projects moved forward, even by small increments. Small wins often had a surprisingly strong positive effect, and small losses a surprisingly negative one. So, small actions to try to reduce daily hassles can make a big difference for inner work life and for overall performance.
It's also important to note that small losses or setbacks were found to overwhelm small wins. Small everyday hassles hold more sway than small everyday supporting activities.
Be sure that you are not the source of the obstacles. Negative team leader behaviors affect inner work life more broadly than positive team leader behaviors. And employees recall more negative team leader actions than positive events and do so more intensely and in more detail.
Chapter 8 includes a Daily Progress Checklist which is worth the price of the book. A self assessment asking questions on Catalysts/Inhibitors, Nourishers/Toxins, the state of the Inner Work lives of your team and Action steps. e.g., Did the team have clear short term and long term goals for meaningful work or was there confusion? Did I give help when they needed it or did I fail to provide help? Did I show respect to team recognizing their contributions to progress or did I disrespect any team members? Did I encourage team members who have difficult challenges or discourage a member of the team in any way?)
Bottom line, to harness the powerful force of the quality of your employees' inner work lives, you must ensure that consistent forward movement in meaningful work is a regular occurrence in your employees ` work lives, despite the inevitable setbacks.
The book was laborious to wade through but it has important findings, conclusions and recommendations which merit it being required reading for managers at all levels.
The authors' research involved reading and analyzing 11,637 diaries from 238 individuals in 26 teams across a wide spectrum of businesses and industries. The results are shared in comparison of a number of companies (all disguised by pseudonyms) and are supported with a number of articles first published in the Harvard Business Review.
Rich with practical insights, some of the key findings include:
* Inner Work Life is a combination of one's perceptions, emotions and motivation.
* These issues are constantly impacted by workday events, impacting individual performance.
* Positive emotions have been shown to be directly related to better creative problem-solving.
* The Progress Principle (identifying small wins) can create the Progress Loop, a self-reinforcing process where progress and inner work life fuel each other.
* Progress in meaningful work was the most powerful in enhancing inner work life, while setbacks were the strongest negative factor.
* Research showed that the vast majority of managers rated support for making meaningful progress dead last as a motivator (!?),
* The impact of negative effects of any size far outweighed the impact of the effect of something positive. Individuals spent more time in their diaries describing these negative events and recalled them more intensely than positive events.
* The key catalysts for positive inner work life were identified as 1) setting clear goals, 2) allowing autonomy, 3) providing resources, 4)giving enough time - but not too much, 5), help with the work, 6) learning from problems and successes, and 7) allowing ideas to flow.
* Catalysts and/or Inhibitors are shaped by the positive or negative side of 1) consideration for people and their ideas, 2) coordination and 3) communication.
* The "local" sources of catalyst factors (team leaders and co-workers) have a much stronger impact on inner work life than the "broad" sources (top level managers and organizational systems).
* The four major nourishers for inner work life are 1) respect, 2) encouragement, 3) emotional support and 4) affiliation.
This excellent resource closes with some do/don't lists for Team Leaders as well as a check list (in the chapter At the End of the Day) to aid in reviewing daily progress in relation to Catalysts/Inhibitors, Nourishers/Toxins, as well as evaluating Inner Work Life and any Action Plans for the next day.
The overall methodology of this and the personal diary entries give a very different insight about how people think. It's probably something not many managers really think about on a daily basis. I know I never used to.
So overall, I really recommend this book. I think it's a really light read but will definitely chanege most readers' view of how they handle their people.
I have used the lessons from this book with the art of deliberate practice to inspire my teams. Little step taken each day can move any mountain & inspiration will drive people to achieve highest level of performance.
Anything less would be less filling :)