The Progress Principle: Using Small Wins to Ignite Joy, Engagement, and Creativity at Work

The Progress Principle: Using Small Wins to Ignite Joy, Engagement, and Creativity at Work

by Teresa Amabile, Steven Kramer


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

What really sets the best managers above the rest? It’s their power to build a cadre of employees who have great inner work lives —consistently positive emotions; strong motivation; and favorable perceptions of the organization, their work, and their colleagues. The worst managers undermine inner work life, often unwittingly.

As Teresa Amabile and Steven Kramer explain in The Progress Principle , seemingly mundane workday events can make or break employees’ inner work lives. But it’s forward momentum in meaningful work—progress—that creates the best inner work lives. Through rigorous analysis of nearly 12,000 diary entries provided by 238 employees in 7 companies, the authors explain how managers can foster progress and enhance inner work life every day.

The book shows how to remove obstacles to progress, including meaningless tasks and toxic relationships. It also explains how to activate two forces that enable progress: (1) catalysts —events that directly facilitate project work, such as clear goals and autonomy—and (2) nourishers —interpersonal events that uplift workers, including encouragement and demonstrations of respect and collegiality.

Brimming with honest examples from the companies studied, The Progress Principle equips aspiring and seasoned leaders alike with the insights they need to maximize their people’s performance.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781422198575
Publisher: Harvard Business Review Press
Publication date: 07/19/2011
Pages: 272
Sales rank: 345,941
Product dimensions: 6.30(w) x 9.20(h) x 0.90(d)

About the Author

Teresa Amabile is a professor of Business Administration and a Director of Research at Harvard Business School. The author of numerous articles and books, including Creativity in Context , she has long studied creativity, motivation, and performance in the workplace. Steven Kramer is a developmental psychologist and has co-authored a number of articles in leading management periodicals, including Harvard Business Review and the Academy of Management Journal .

Table of Contents

Introduction 1

1 Scenes from the Organizational Trenches 11

2 The Dynamics of Inner Work Life 27

3 The Inner Work Life Effect: How Inner Work Life Drives Performance 43

4 Discovering the Progress Principle 67

5 The Progress Principle: The Power of Meaningful Accomplishment 87

6 The Catalyst Factor: The Power of Project Support 101

7 The Nourishment Factor: The Power of Interpersonal Support 129

8 At the End of the Day 157

9 Tending Your Own Inner Work Life 183

Appendix: About the Research 193

Notes 223

Index 247

Acknowledgments 255

About the Authors 259

What People are Saying About This

From the Publisher

“It's a very instructive read that I highly recommend… a groundbreaking book.” - Huffington Post

“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 management—the 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 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 Progress Principle: Using Small Wins to Ignite Joy, Engagement, and Creativity at Work 3.6 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 7 reviews.
David_Marquet-Practicum More than 1 year ago
Employee engagement and morale decline again. Few anticipate their jobs will be a source of satisfaction. Something big is going on. The Progress Principle is key to understanding it. When your employees' major output is intellectual (and this book is based primarily on knowledge workers) why do people give of their intellectual energy, creativity, and passion? Based upon 12,000 diary entries by workers in several businesses coded for perceptive, emotional, and motivational content, Teresa Amabile and Steven Kramer uncover the answer. First, workplace motivation must be internal. They call it the internal work life. Motivation comes from nourishing that internal work life resulting in happy workers. How do we best nourish internal work life? With small wins, by making progress, even small progress, in meaningful work. How do we kill it? With setbacks, inhibitors and toxins. One of the issues this brings up for leaders is organizational bounds within which we create a protected environment of trust and collaboration and the boundary at which that turns to competition. Some leadership writers have advocated a very competitive environment where trust ends and competition begins at your skin. The evidence here, however, is that creating a more trusting, nourishing environment of collaboration results in improved work output. It may be the most important reason organizations exist. The book left me with this bigger question: why are the actions of most managers instinctively harmful in this new environment? They persist with inappropriate motivators that have been shown to lower creativity output. They have been brought up on the idea that being a leader means turning others into followers, and this just doesn't work.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
RolfDobelli More than 1 year ago
Husband and wife research psychologists Teresa Amabile and Steven Kramer wanted to explain how positive and negative work environments evolve and how they affect employees’ “creative problem solving.” The authors elicited daily diary entries from 238 people working in three industries at seven different companies. Respondents rated their work lives and described “positive, negative or neutral” events. The authors link “inner work life” and performance, and then relate case studies to provide guidelines for facilitating progress. getAbstract recommends this significant, revealing – though occasionally dry – book to leaders at every level.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
a very boring book..a lot of repetitiveness. interesting form of collecting data and very thorough just not enjoyable.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book is not so interesting. Tjis book is the only book that shows up si its kind of boreing to me. Thank you