A Progress Checklist

  • 3 mins read

I’m amazed by the research done for the book The Progress Principle. The authors, Teresa Amabile and Steven Kramer, used daily diaries to collect the thoughts about work from teams of knowledge workers in seven diverse companies.
What they found makes so much sense, yet it’s not being applied by most managers. They showed that above all else, people were motivated when they got support for progress. That’s not the same as recognition for good work. People want to accomplish meaningful work, and even small wins, for themselves or their team mates, boosts their energy and motivation.
Here are some questions that can walk you through using small wins and progress to motivate your team or work group.


Progress

Setbacks
Which 1 or 2 events today indicated either a small win or a possible breakthrough? (Describe briefly.) Which 1 or 2 events today indicated either a small setback or a possible crisis? (Describe briefly.)

Catalysts

Inhibitors
Did the team have clear short- and long-term goals for meaningful work? Was there any confusion regarding long- or short-term goals for meaningful work?
Did team members have sufficient autonomy to solve problems and take ownership of the project? Were team members overly constrained in their ability to solve problems and feel ownership of the project?
Did they have all the resources they needed to move forward efficiently? Did they lack any of the resources they needed to move forward effectively?
Did they have sufficient time to focus on meaningful work? Did they lack sufficient time to focus on meaningful work?
Did I give or get them help when they needed or requested it? Did I encourage team members to help one another? Did I or others fail to provide needed or requested help?
Did I discuss lessons from today’s successes and problems with my team? Did I “punish” failure, or neglect to find lessons and/or opportunities in problems and successes?
Did I help ideas flow freely within the group? Did I or others cut 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?

Source: T. Amabile & S. Kramer, The Progress Principle: Using Small Wins to Ignite Joy, Engagement, and Creativity at Work (Harvard Business Press, 2011)
Learn more about management tactics like this through our work in healthcare coaching.

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