The Progress Principle

by Scott Crabtree

How do you motivate employees? How do you keep them happy and engaged?

book 3The Progress Principle

The Progress Principle: Using Small Wins to Ignite Joy, Engagement, and Creativity at Work presents compelling evidence that most of us are failing to use one of the most powerful tools of all: progress toward clear and meaningful goals.

It’s not as obvious as it seems.

As is often the case, due to the hindsight effect, once we hear that progress is key to motivation we think it’s obvious. But a research team led by Teresa Amibile found that managers rank progress last on multiple choice lists of employee motivators.

Most busy leaders set goals, then turn their attention to other things they need to do. They spend precious little time and energy on ensuring that employees are able to make progress.

12,000 daily journals show: progress matters most.

By reviewing 12,000 daily work journals across a variety of industries and organizations, Amabile’s team found several factors contributing to what they call “inner work life”. By far the strongest factor was progress.

Why read the Progress Principle, and how to act on it.

Read this book for excellent insights into why employees are so motivated by making progress, and what managers can do to better support and celebrate progress.

Then act on it. One specific suggestion is to create visual progress indicators for important goals and put them up in very public places in the office.

When I was giving workshops at a major film company recently, they had posters up on the wall that represented the special effects for each scene in an upcoming movie. As effects were completed, the posters were colored in. A scene that was 1/2 complete was colored in 1/2 way. Just looking at all the posters that were 100% colored gave me an uplifting feeling of progress – and I’m not even working on the movie!

Create realistic goals. Provide enough resources. Remove roadblocks. Talk about and celebrate progress. And read The Progress Principle for much more on this powerful tool to fuel happiness at work.

More resources for increasing happiness at work

If you found this book review helpful, you might want to check out my other recommended readings in the resource section, or subscribe to this blog to make sure you don’t miss out on future book reviews, science news, and actionable tips for increasing happiness in your workplace.

(Full disclosure: The image of the book cover is linked to my Amazon affiliate account. You can of course find this great book elsewhere.)