I am always behind in my reading. I try to stay up but then I fall back. I was reading a short article in Harvard Business Review’s Reinvent January/February issuetoday and I was so struck by one “breakthrough idea” I read that literally a light bulb appeared above my head.
What really motivates workers….recognition? Try again. Incentives? Mmmm…they are important but not quite. It’s progress! And, when researchers Teresa Amabile and Steven Kramer asked leaders what they thought, all said recognition was first and progress was dead last.
I feel like shouting this from the mountaintops. Amend every management course. PROGRESS! Yes! Don’t we feel frustrated when action isn’t taken? Or, politics gets in the way? Or, cumbersome approval processes prevent us from moving forward? Yes. This all affects our engagement levels and motivation because our ability to succeed, contribute and create value is inhibited.
So, as managers, and leaders especially, to improve employee engagement and retain high potential staff members, ensure that progress is being made and obstacles to progress are removed immediately.
Ensuring progress means:
- Breaking down silos
- Communicating frequently
- Providing tools and technology access
- Setting achievable goals
- Fostering creativity
- Securing resources
- Involving your people in decisions
These sound so easy but they can be difficult depending on culture. But, I can’t think of a more important charter for a leader than being able to retain top talent while moving the ship forward in the right direction.