5 steps to harness the progress principle

Coert Visser, September 6, 2013

In their large-scale study, Teresa Amabile and Steven Kramer have discovered that making progress in meaningful work is a main contributor to a positive work life and to good performance (Read more about this study, here). Here are a few practical suggestions to harness the power of meaningful progress.
  1. Define ‘meaningful': It is progress in meaningful work which is so motivating. Therefore it is important to know what ‘meaningful’ means to you. You can do this by deliberate thinking about what is important to you at work and by discussing meaningfulness with colleagues and managers. Chances are, you will start to start to see the meaningfulness of your work better and maybe you will even manage to increase it. > More about this 
  2. Remove obstacles: Because negative events can have a strong negative effect, it can be very rewarding to remove them so that unimpeded progress will become possible. If you do this in a team, the effect can of course be even stronger. An interesting question to talk about together is: “How can we help each other to achieve progress in important work?” > More about this 
  3. Focus on meaningful work: On each day, schedule at least half an hour to an hour to work without any disturbances on work which is most meaningful to you. > More about this 
  4. Keep a progress diary. Choose a notebook, diary or word file to write in every night. During the day, pay attention to any progress you make in relation to anything you find important. At the end of each day write down 3 examples of progress you have made during the day, no matter how small that progress may be. Also, write down how you managed to create that progress. Write down, as specifically as possible, what it was that you did which worked well. Estimated time: 10-15 minutes per day. > More about this 
  5. Share and discuss progress with each other: By talking about meaningful progress its beneficial effects may become even stronger. Finding out that your colleagues are also making meaningful progress can also be very motivating. Sharing these kinds of positive experiences can elicit positive emotions which can be contagious. Furthermore, when colleagues are discussing progress there is a great opportunity to find out how they can co-operate in order to make further meaningful progress. > More about this 
My suggestion is to give it a try. I would appreciate it if you let me know how it worked!