Inner Work Life – The Four Nourishers and How They Lead to Progress

The main way nourishers help inner work life is by making the work more meaningful which is am important element of the progress principle.

When we are 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 which inspires us to go the extra mile for the team which results in greater creativity and productivity.

The Four Major Nourishers are:

1. Respect – How Management acts plays a large part in whether employees feel respected or not. Recognition is the most important of these actions. People feel respected when their efforts are acknowledged. Respect is also shown when managers give employees ideas serious attention. Dealing with people honestly also shows respect. And finally basic civility signifies respect.

2. Encouragement – Encouraging people can nourish their inner work lives in a couple of ways. The enthusiasm of leaders can help to improve employee’s motivation, especially when this enthusiasm includes statements about the importance of the work. Second, when management shows they believe that their people can do a good job.

3. Emotional Support – People feel more connected to others at work when their emotions are validated. Managers can help to alleviate the negative and increase the effect of the positive simply by acknowledging. Managers who empathize can have an even more powerful effect on the inner work life of their team.

4. Affiliation – This occurs when team members are able to develop bonds of trust and appreciation with each other. Leaders can help these bonds develop by providing opportunities for people to spend time face to face with their colleagues and finding ways for them to have fun together.

Importantly it’s not enough for you as the leader to give your team nourishment you also need to establish a culture within the group were team members also nourish each other.

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Inner Work Life – The Nourishment Factor – The Power of Interpersonal Support

The third major influence on Inner Work life is the Nourishment Factor along with the Progress Principle and the Catalyst Factor.

You nourish a persons inner work life by recognizing good work, providing encouragement or offering emotional support. You might also engage in conflict resolution, facilitate people getting to know each other or simply let them have some fun.

All of these things lead to team members experiencing positive emotions such as joy, pride and happiness. They then become motivated to contribute to something wonderful. Over time the positive inner work life responses lead to superior performance.

Inner Work Life – The Seven Major Catalysts

1. Setting Clear Goals

Inner work life is improved when employees know what direction they need to move towards and why the work they do is important.

2. Allowing autonomy

Once the broad goals are set employees need to have some influence over how they meet those goals in order to be intrinsically motivated and to truly own the progress that is made towards meeting those goals.

3. Providing Resources

Providing resources has two major impacts on inner work life. It both allows the employee to have a stronger belief that the work will be a success and it also indicates that management values the work they are doing.

4. Giving enough time – but not too much

Low to moderate time pressure is optimal to inner work life. Too much and employees become stressed, unhappy and unmotivated, too little and people feel unchallenged and bored.

5. Help with the work

Employees become dejected when they need help and can’t get it, frustrated when help could be given but is withheld by someone important such as managers at any level and infuriated when it seems that someone is actively getting in the way of their work. On the other hand getting the right sort of help, from the right people, at the right time, can give a great boost to inner work life.

6. Learning from problems and successes

Problems should be faced head on, studied and solved or learned from. Ignoring problems or punishing people for having problems both have a detrimental impact to inner work life. Studying and celebrating successes also improves inner work life. When success is ignored or its value is questioned inner work life is negatively effected.

7. Allowing ideas to flow

Managers need to truly listen to their employees, encourage different opinions and respectful debate of those opinions.

Inner Work Life – The Progress Loop

Progress and Inner Work Life feed each other in a virtuous cycle.

The progress loop is a secret weapon of high performance companies; it produces powerful benefits for both managers and employees.

Consistent daily progress by each employee propels the company towards achieving its goals and also improves the quality of inner work life for the employees involved in the progress. Progress feeds growth in the positive inner work life of your employees. Growth in positive inner work life then feeds further progress.

To benefit from this powerful tool you must ensure that consistent forward momentum in work that has meaning to your employees is a regular experience for them.

As a manager you must keep the progress loop in motion by constantly helping employees to progress and remove obstacles in the way of that progress.

Inner Work Life – Four Ways to Destroy the Meaning of the Work – What to Avoid

Managers should make sure that employees just how their work is contributing. And, most importantly, managers should avoid actions that take away from the value of the work.

A persons belief in the importance of their work is lost in four ways:

  • Leaders or Coworkers dismissing/ignoring a persons work or ideas.
  • Managers acting in a way that removes a persons sense of ownership of their work.
  • Managers making employees doubt that their work will ever be used, which leads to employees thinking their work is a waste of time since it will never be implemented.
  • Asking an employee to do work that is well below their capabilities.
All of these things must be avoided and their must be consistent communication with employees tying their work to the success of the group.

Inner Work Life – Progress in Meaningful Work

In order for the progress principle to come into play the work been done must be meaningful. Simply making progress getting things done doesn’t guarantee good inner work life if the things getting done are not important or meaningful to the person doing them.

This desire for meaningful work creates the foundation for the progress principle. It is progress in meaningful work that triggers the sense of accomplishment and other positive perceptions, emotions and motivations that make up excellent inner work life.

What is Meaningful Work?

To be meaningful what matters is whether the person doing the work perceives their work to be contributing value to something or someone who matters (even their team, themselves or their family etc.)

It can simply be making a useful and high quality product for the customer or providing a genuine service for their community,

Inner Work Life – The Power of Negative Events

Your first action has to be to remove obstacles that cause setbacks to inner work life.

Why?

Because one setback has more power to effect inner work life than one incident that causes progress. The effect of setbacks on emotions is stronger than the effect of progress.

  • The power of setbacks to diminish happiness is more than twice as strong as the power of progress to boost happiness. The power of setbacks to increase frustration is more than three times as strong as the power of progress to decrease frustration. 
  • Small losses can overwhelm small wins. Similarly, small everyday hassles at work hold more sway than small everyday supports. 
  • Negative team leader behaviors affect inner work life more broadly than positive team leader behaviors. 
  • The connection between mood and negative work events is about five times stronger than the connection between mood and positive events. 
  • Employees recall more negative leader actions than positive actions, and they recall the negative actions more intensely and in more detail than the positive ones.
Precisely because they are less powerful in affecting inner work life, try and ensure that good events at work outnumber the bad. In particular, try to reduce daily hassles.
Even your small actions to remove obstacles impeding the progress of individuals and teams can make a big difference for inner work life which means a big difference in performance.

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

Inner Work Life – The Key Three Influences

Positive inner work life

The progress principle

Events signifying progress, including:

  • Small wins
  • Breakthroughs
  • Forward movement
  • Goal completion

The catalyst factor

Events supporting the work, including:

  • Setting clear goals
  • Allowing autonomy
  • Providing resources
  • Providing sufficient time
  • Helping with the work
  • Learning from problems and successes
  • Allowing ideas to flow

The nourishment factor

Events supporting the person, including:

  • Respect
  • Encouragement
  • Emotional support
  • Affiliation

Inner Work Life – How it is influenced

In the book The Progress Principle: Using Small Wins to Ignite Joy, Engagement, and Creativity at Work by Teresa Amabile and Steven Kramer we learn what events impact a employees inner work life both for the better, and the worse.

Three types of events are particularly potent forces for supporting positive inner work life in employees:

  1. Progress – in meaningful work;
  2. Catalysts – events that directly help the progress of the work such as clear goals and autonomy;
  3. Nourishes – Interpersonal events that uplift the people doing the work such as encouragement and demonstrations of respect.
Out of the three the single most powerful is the first, progress in meaningful work.
As a manager you need to know why people come to work every day, what makes them stay and what drives them to perform at their best. The best leaders are able to build a team of employees who have satisfying inner work lives: consistently positive emotions, strong motivation; and favorable perceptions of the organization, their work, and their colleagues.

Inner Work Life – Why it Matters

Inner work life has a huge impact on four major areas of people’s performance at work: creativity, productivity, work commitment and teamwork.

Inner work life should be extremely important to managers because ultimately everything depends on great performance by the people that make up the organization.

Inner work life matters deeply to employees as it is a major factor in their level of overall happiness.

Poor inner work life resulting from stress leads to increases in physical illness and absenteeism while positive inner work life leads to high levels of creativity, productivity, commitment to the work that needs doing and positive, constructive teamwork with colleagues.