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

Teresa Amabile and Steven Kramer
If people in your organization cannot make consistent progress in meaningful work, they cannot have good inner work lives. They cannot make that progress without support?without a strong daily dose of catalysts and nourishers. And that support depends on you. Far too many managers are unaware of the importance of progress and therefore neither worry about it nor act to support it. As crucial as progress is to inner work life, and as obvious as it might seem, we are convinced that most managers simply don?t think about it, systematically, every day.
The Progress Principle: Using Small Wins to Ignite Joy, Engagement, and Creativity at Work - Teresa Amabile and Steven Kramer Loc. 2698-2702 - Highlight on Page 158 | Added on Wednesday, June 20, 2012, 12:48 PM
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Toxins are the opposite of nourishers, and have the opposite effect. The four toxins are disrespect, discouragement, emotional neglect, and antagonism.
The Progress Principle: Using Small Wins to Ignite Joy, Engagement, and Creativity at Work - Teresa Amabile and Steven Kramer Loc. 2278-79 - Highlight on Page 133 | Added on Wednesday, June 20, 2012, 12:32 PM
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It?s not just how managers interact directly with subordinates. It?s also establishing the foundation for subordinates to give each other nourishment. That means establishing a positive organizational climate and considering personalities and work styles as well as skills when assigning people to teams.
The Progress Principle: Using Small Wins to Ignite Joy, Engagement, and Creativity at Work - Teresa Amabile and Steven Kramer Loc. 2270-72 - Highlight on Page 133 | Added on Wednesday, June 20, 2012, 12:31 PM
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Affiliation.8Affiliation?actions that develop bonds of mutual trust, appreciation, and even affection with coworkers?is the most obvious way in which people feel the human connection at work.
The Progress Principle: Using Small Wins to Ignite Joy, Engagement, and Creativity at Work - Teresa Amabile and Steven Kramer Loc. 2259-61 - Highlight on Page 132 | Added on Wednesday, June 20, 2012, 12:30 PM
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Emotional support.7Because emotions constitute one of the three essential components of inner work life, people feel more connected to others at work when their emotions are validated.
The Progress Principle: Using Small Wins to Ignite Joy, Engagement, and Creativity at Work - Teresa Amabile and Steven Kramer Loc. 2252-53 - Highlight on Page 132 | Added on Wednesday, June 20, 2012, 12:29 PM
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Encouragement.6Encouraging people can nourish their inner work lives in a couple of ways. First, a manager?s own enthusiasm can help to increase employees? motivation for the work. This is especially true when that encouragement includes statements about the importance of the work. Second, when a manager expresses confidence that people are capable of doing the work well, this message increases their sense of self-efficacy?their own belief that they are effective human beings.
The Progress Principle: Using Small Wins to Ignite Joy, Engagement, and Creativity at Work - Teresa Amabile and Steven Kramer Loc. 2248-51 - Highlight on Page 131 | Added on Wednesday, June 20, 2012, 12:28 PM
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the nourishment factor can be divided into four broad categories of events, each directly impacting inner work life:
The Progress Principle: Using Small Wins to Ignite Joy, Engagement, and Creativity at Work - Teresa Amabile and Steven Kramer Loc. 2239-40 - Highlight on Page 131 | Added on Wednesday, June 20, 2012, 12:27 PM
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primary way in which nourishers fuel inner work life and progress is by infusing the work with greater meaning. When we care about the people we work with, we want to succeed for them. When our colleagues become a kind of family to us, work can take on new meaning in our lives. Human connections really can inspire people to ?go the extra mile for the team.? Creativity and productivity result.
The Progress Principle: Using Small Wins to Ignite Joy, Engagement, and Creativity at Work - Teresa Amabile and Steven Kramer Loc. 2236-39 - Highlight on Page 131 | Added on Wednesday, June 20, 2012, 12:26 PM
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As a starting point for your own journaling, we suggest trying to answer the following questions at the end of each day: What event stands out in my mind from the workday, and how did it affect my inner work life? What progress did I make today and how did it affect my inner work life? What nourishers and catalysts supported me and my work today? How can I sustain them tomorrow? What one thing can I do to make progress on important work tomorrow? What setbacks did I have today, and how did they affect my inner work life? What can I learn from them? What toxins and inhibitors impacted me and my work today? How can I weaken or avoid them tomorrow? Did I affect my colleagues? inner work lives positively today? How might I do so tomorrow?
The Progress Principle: Using Small Wins to Ignite Joy, Engagement, and Creativity at Work - Teresa Amabile and Steven Kramer Loc. 3224-32 - Highlight on Page 189 | Added on Wednesday, June 20, 2012, 01:25 PM
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To boost your own inner work life as a manager, be sure to provide your people with the catalysts and the nourishers they need to make progress every day, and buffer them from inhibitors and toxins as much as possible. That way, you?ll make progress in your own managerial work, setting up your own positive progress loop.
The Progress Principle: Using Small Wins to Ignite Joy, Engagement, and Creativity at Work - Teresa Amabile and Steven Kramer Loc. 3163-66 - Highlight on Page 186 | Added on Wednesday, June 20, 2012, 01:24 PM
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Whether you are a CEO or a manager of a small group, you would do well to follow Anne Mulcahy?s example. Management responsibilities can take a particular toll on day-by-day perceptions, emotions, and motivations.
The Progress Principle: Using Small Wins to Ignite Joy, Engagement, and Creativity at Work - Teresa Amabile and Steven Kramer Loc. 3143-44 - Highlight on Page 185 | Added on Wednesday, June 20, 2012, 01:23 PM
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local leaders can create a temporary oasis for a team, a department, maybe even an entire business unit. But that doesn?t excuse top organizational managers from their responsibility to create a positive organizational climate for people and their ideas. It?s a waste of local leaders? talent and energy to bear the sole responsibility for sustaining their people?s inner work lives. And they can?t do it indefinitely.
The Progress Principle: Using Small Wins to Ignite Joy, Engagement, and Creativity at Work - Teresa Amabile and Steven Kramer Loc. 3098-3101 - Highlight on Page 180 | Added on Wednesday, June 20, 2012, 01:20 PM
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This is how a manager creates a climate of psychological safety?by focusing on the work and what can be learned from it, rather than berating subordinates for errors. More generally, this is how a manager can sustain virtuous cycles of progress and positive inner work life in the face of the inevitable setbacks that occur in any complex project.
The Progress Principle: Using Small Wins to Ignite Joy, Engagement, and Creativity at Work - Teresa Amabile and Steven Kramer Loc. 3030-33 - Highlight on Page 177 | Added on Wednesday, June 20, 2012, 01:18 PM
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Focusing on inner work life one day at a time keeps you vigilant, but people make sense of each day?s events against the backstory of the days that preceded it. Myopic focus on a narrow timeframe can blind you to the big picture of what?s really going on with both inner work life and progress.
The Progress Principle: Using Small Wins to Ignite Joy, Engagement, and Creativity at Work - Teresa Amabile and Steven Kramer Loc. 3009-11 - Highlight on Page 175 | Added on Wednesday, June 20, 2012, 01:17 PM
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Business schools, business books, and managers themselves usually conceptualize management as managing organizations or managing people. But if you focus on daily progress in meaningful work, managing people and the entire organization will become much more feasible. You won?t have to figure out a way to X-ray subordinates? inner work lives because, if you facilitate their steady progress in meaningful work, make that progress salient to them, and treat them well as people, they will experience the perceptions, emotions, and motivation necessary for great performance. Their superior work will contribute much to organizational success.
The Progress Principle: Using Small Wins to Ignite Joy, Engagement, and Creativity at Work - Teresa Amabile and Steven Kramer Loc. 2994-98 - Highlight on Page 174 | Added on Wednesday, June 20, 2012, 01:16 PM
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The daily progress checklist Progress Which 1 or 2 events today indicated either a small win or a possible breakthrough? (Describe briefly.) Setbacks Which 1 or 2 events today indicated either a small setback or a possible crisis? (Describe briefly.) Catalysts Inhibitors
The Progress Principle: Using Small Wins to Ignite Joy, Engagement, and Creativity at Work - Teresa Amabile and Steven Kramer Loc. 2907-11 - Highlight on Page 170 | Added on Wednesday, June 20, 2012, 01:14 PM
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Did I help ideas flow freely within the group? Did I or others out off the presentation or debate of ideas prematurely? Nourishers Toxins Did I show respect to team members by recognizing their contributions to progress, attending to their ideas, and treating them as trusted professionals? Did I disrespect any team members by failing to recognize their contributions to progress, not attending to their ideas, or not treating them as trusted professionals? Did I encourage team members who faced difficult challenges? Did I discourage a member of the team in any way? Did I support team members who had a personal or professional problem? Did I neglect a team member who had a personal or professional problem? Is there a sense of personal and professional affiliation and camaraderie within the team? Is there tension or antagonism among members of the team or between team members and me?
The Progress Principle: Using Small Wins to Ignite Joy, Engagement, and Creativity at Work - Teresa Amabile and Steven Kramer Loc. 2922-31 - Highlight on Page 170 | Added on Wednesday, June 20, 2012, 01:13 PM
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Did I see any indications of the quality of my subordinates? inner work lives today? Perceptions of the work, team, management, firm Emotions Motivation What specific events might have affected inner work life today? Action plan What can I do tomorrow to strengthen the catalysts and nourishers identified and provide ones that are lacking? What can I do tomorrow to start eliminating the inhibitors and toxins identified?
The Progress Principle: Using Small Wins to Ignite Joy, Engagement, and Creativity at Work - Teresa Amabile and Steven Kramer Loc. 2932-38 - Highlight on Page 171 | Added on Wednesday, June 20, 2012, 01:12 PM
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indications of the quality of my subordinates? inner work lives today? Perceptions of the work, team, management, firm Emotions Motivation What specific events might have affected inner work life today? Action plan What can I do tomorrow to strengthen the catalysts and nourishers identified and provide ones that are lacking?
The Progress Principle: Using Small Wins to Ignite Joy, Engagement, and Creativity at Work - Teresa Amabile and Steven Kramer Loc. 2933-38 - Highlight on Page 171 | Added on Wednesday, June 20, 2012, 01:11 PM
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Third, micromanaging leaders are quick to affix personal blame when problems arise, rather than guiding subordinates in an open exploration of causes and possible solutions. Those subordinates end up striving to look good rather than honestly discussing obstacles and how to surmount them. They live in fear, and their perceptions of the manager settle into a permanent trough.
The Progress Principle: Using Small Wins to Ignite Joy, Engagement, and Creativity at Work - Teresa Amabile and Steven Kramer Loc. 2858-61 - Highlight on Page 167 | Added on Wednesday, June 20, 2012, 01:07 PM
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