#1. Leadership: What Really Motivates Workers: Understanding the power of progress (by Theresa Amabile and Steven Kramer). When surveyed about employee motivation, most leaders will tell you that recognition, financial incentives, and other similar leadership hygiene factors. WRONG. After a multi-year study of hundreds of knowledge works from a variety of venues, the authors studied over 12,000 daily journal entries tracking when employees felt motivated or not. Their unequivocal finding: The top motivator of performance is (drum roll, please…): Progress! When people felt that they were making headway and obstacles were being removed from their path (by leaders), they felt motivated. And the opposite was also true. On those days where they felt like they were spinning their wheels their motivation and mood suffered.
The Breakthrough Idea: As a leader, keep the ball rolling for direct reports and first do no harm! In short, grease the skids and don’t put up roadblocks if you want to motivate people. “When workers sense they’re making headway, their drive to succeed is at a peak.” Incentives are nice but don’t motivate like basic progress toward a goal.
NOTE: From Jan-Feb. 2010 Harvard Business Review. Let me know what you think!