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.
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.
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.
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,
What can you do to create a strong sense of belonging within your organization?
- Lead with an inspirational mission and purpose that aligns and creates an emotional connection with all employees.
- Encode and live by a strong set of values that guide both business and interpersonal behaviors. Emphasize things like respect, collaboration and fun.
- Set the expectation and train your leaders to be champions of your purpose and exemplars of your values. Teach them how to be open, available and inclusive.
- Immediately and decisively deal with behavior that is not in line with your values, especially if it occurs with someone in a leadership position.
- Know and respect all employees as complete individuals with their own personal relationships, interests and challenges.
- Communicate openly and inclusively, particularly regarding business or organizational issues that have the potential to adversely affect employees.
- Encourage positive social connection and enjoyment in the workplace.
- Provide vehicles and opportunities for all employees to have a voice.
Belonging is primal, fundamental to our sense of happiness and well-being.
A sense of social belonging can affect motivation and continued persistence, even on impossible tasks. That is, if you don’t feel like you belong, you are both less motivated and less likely to hang in there in the face of obstacles.
From this it is clear how creating a sense of belonging in your employees can lead to huge improvements in performance that would not have otherwise been possible.
Research conducted by psychologists Geoff MacDonald at the University of Toronto and Mark R. Leary at Duke University found that when we have a sense of belonging, when we feel accepted, welcomed and included, we are more likely to experience positive emotions such as happiness, calm and satisfaction. And, as workers. we are likely to:
- Be more productive.
- Be more helpful to our co-workers without the need for personal gain.
- Encourage and support one another.
- Work more cooperatively with other teams.
- Take fewer sick days or be late to work.
According to Greg Stewart, Professor of Management and Organizations at the University of Iowa, A sense of belonging and attachment to a group of co-workers is a better motivator for some employees than money.
Instilling a sense of belonging in your employees is essential to both create the best work environment for your employees that you can and also to enable them to excel.
Your first action has to be to remove obstacles that cause setbacks to inner work life.
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
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:
- Progress – in meaningful work;
- Catalysts – events that directly help the progress of the work such as clear goals and autonomy;
- 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.