Are You a Catalyst for Success in Your Organization?

Recognize This! – Helping others see and revel in progress made contributes to employee engagement and motivation.

Regular readers know I’m a big fan of the work of Teresa Amabile, Harvard Business School Director of Research and co-author of The Progress Principle. I was thrilled when Globoforce engaged Dr. Amabile in a recent Q&A about her research and findings in the book. A few of the most important excerpts from the full Globoforce Q&A are below:

Q: You talk about how fostering a spirit of collaboration, creativity and positivity in a workplace can benefit productivity. Are there ways that employees can create that same spirit at work for themselves? 

Teresa Amabile:  We found that, when they have better inner work lives, people are more creative and productive, they demonstrate more commitment to their work, and they are better colleagues to each other. That’s what we call the inner work life effect. Further, we found that, of all the things that can make for great inner work life, the single most important is simply making progress in meaningful work. That’s the progress principle, and it applies even when people make incremental progress toward a meaningful goal – what we call “small wins.” 

We discovered many relatively simple actions, called “catalysts,” that can support progress in the workplace. Some of these are generally the purview of managers, such as giving employees clear, meaningful goals and as much autonomy as possible in reaching those goals. But many other catalysts, such as helping, more often come from peers. 

Q: Is there anything you’d like to add with respect to how employees can work collectively to better ignite engagement?  

Teresa Amabile: Help each other note progress in the work, even if it’s a small win in the midst of an otherwise frustrating day, and be sure to recognize – even celebrate – your individual and collective progress!

Encourage your employees to become catalysts for supporting progress. Empower them to recognize and rewards their peers and colleagues and when they see progress being made on important work.

What catalysts for motivation do you have in your workplace?


Derek Irvine

About Derek Irvine

The VP of Client Strategy and Consulting at Globoforce, Derek Irvine is one of the world’s foremost experts on employee recognition and engagement, helping business leaders set a higher vision and ambition for their organizations. As a renowned speaker and co-author of "The Power of Thanks" and "Winning with a Culture of Recognition," he teaches companies how to use recognition to proactively manage company culture. Derek holds a B.Comm and Masters of Business Studies from the Smurfit Graduate Business School at University College Dublin.

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  1. […] Research proves meaningful work is a primary aspect employee motivation and engagement. But who’s responsible for ensuring work is meaningful? And what, exactly, is meaningful work anyway? […]

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