What motivates you?

July 2, 2014

Have you ever wondered why we spend so much time going through our email inboxes, when there are so many other pressing demands on our time?   This question intrigues Dr Jason Fox, a leading global motivation strategy and design expert on an epic quest to liberate the world from poorly-designed work (got to love a great quest!)
I never expected his answer to lie in a longitudinal study on motivation conducted by Harvard Business School.

In the study, HBR researchers asked leaders what motivated people and the response was the usual mix of things such as money and feedback. Then the researchers asked employees what motivated them.  Their answer was surprising.  The number one thing that motivated employees was  a sense of progress.  This is known as the progress principle, or the power of small wins.

Dr Fox recommends making progress visible, whatever that looks like for you: scoreboards, meetings or status updates.  This piece of research also answers that vexed question of why, when we have an important pressing deadline, we work through our emails first; because it gives us a sense of progress!  It’s so satisfying to knock your emails down from 110 to a more manageable 25 – at least temporarily.

So, how are you going to make progress visible for yourself and your team? Please comment – I would love to share your insights.


PS: I am also loving Dr Jason Fox’s best-seller, The Game Changer.  It’s full of fascinating science-based techniques to boost workplace motivation.

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