If you are responsible for the performance of a group, if you go to work every day and face the twin challenges of accomplishing the mission and caring for your people, then you need to read The Progress Principle: Using Small Wins to Ignite Joy, Engagement, and Creativity at Work by Teresa Amabile and Steven Kramer. More than that, you should master the lessons in this book and apply them on the job every day. If you do, things will go better for you and your team.
Strong recommendation? You bet. But the research is solid, the issues covered are important, and the advice is practical. You can’t do better than that.
Check out some of the reviews. To understand why this is an important and well-researched book, read Bob Sutton’s “The Progress Principle: A Masterpiece Every Manager Should Own.” To get an idea of what’s inside the book read “Guru Review: The Progress Principle” by Matthew May. Check out the reviews on Amazon, too. Here’s the key research finding from Amabile and Kramer.
“Our research inside companies revealed that the best way to motivate people, day in and day out, is by facilitating progress—even small wins.”
The authors tell you why that statement is true. Even better they offer practical ideas, including “Tips for Managers” to help you put their recommendations to work. I’ve worked with the book for a few years now, and recommended it to dozens of people. Here are some things I think you will get from it.
Recognize the power of small wins. On a bad day, a little bit of progress, a small win, can help improve both morale and productivity. Small wins, strung together are the way to get a big project done. I’ve incorporated the principle in my ebook, Become a Better Boss One Tip at a Time.
Learn how to make this work for you, too. When I’m having a day where things don’t go right, I’ve discovered that doing something that makes progress lifts my mood and my perception of the whole day, just as the authors promised.
Here’s tip that works for me and may work for you. I keep a list of small “progress” items at my desk. When I do my end-of-day evaluation and realize I haven’t made any progress on anything, I pull out the list pick one of the items, and complete it. Instant progress.
Boss’s Bottom Line
The Progress Principle will deliver great results for you but it won’t happen automatically. You will have to change the way you do things and that takes work. Use checklists, automated reminders, and journals to help make the change and make it permanent.