What motivates us at work

21 Jul

I just read a really interesting article in the Harvard Business Review about what motivates people at work the most. Counter to popular belief and to what another survey suggested managers think, it was not recognition, monetary or otherwise,  for work. Instead, making progress came as number one.

The authors asked office workers to email them diaries at the end of every day saying how good the day was and what they did. In 76% of great days, workers reported having made a progress (see the chart). While at first it might sound surprising, it actually makes perfect sense if you think about it. I also feel really good when I spend my day productively and make headway on important task and I guess I am not alone.

This is good news because managers can directly influence how much progress their people make by setting clear goals with a number of milestones and giving support in achieving them, motivating their workers in that way.

Recognition still came high up though, so we should never forget to recognize and celebrate success whenever an important step is accomplished.

Source: What Really Motivates Workers in 10 Breakthrough Ideas for 2010, HBR, January – February 2010

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