Today, Labor Day, I got an email from a former member of a team I led some years ago. She found in the New York Times an article which summarizes the philosophy our team tried to implement and which may have been responsible for our share of accomplishments along that creative stage of our lives.
Now that media companies are beset by a never ending crisis in the Western World, as well as by their own special circumstances, we are losing sight of how to move forward with our projects and how to keep our teams really motivated. The old guard assumes people will always remain motivated because they want to keep their jobs. Wrong! Good digital professionals can move to other projects almost as freely as they wish. “Generation Y” professionals fear boredom and actively look for more feedback from their work environment while at the same time demand to be part of the decision making process. They are independent, tech savvy, competitive and challenge the “just do it” type of management. In case of boredom they vote with their feet and that explains their high mobility.
In spite of the obvious reasons, media companies very often do not get it right; they do not manage employees properly. What do our digital people want, generation Y or older? Teresa Amabile, a professor at Harvard Business School, and Steven Kramer, an independent researcher, are the authors of “The Progress Principle.”, which is summarized in the Times. Let me just offer a few enlightening sentences as well as a link for the complete article (bold is mine):
“Managers can help ensure that people are happily engaged at work. Doing so isn’t expensive. Workers’ well-being depends, in large part, on managers’ ability and willingness to facilitate workers’ accomplishments — by removing obstacles, providing help and acknowledging strong effort. Employees are far more likely to have new ideas on days when they feel happier. Conventional wisdom suggests that pressure enhances performance; our real-time data, however, shows that workers perform better when they are happily engaged in what they do.A clear pattern emerged when we analyzed the 64,000 specific workday events reported in the diaries: of all the events that engage people at work, the single most important — by far — is simply making progress in meaningful work.
As long as workers experience their labor as meaningful, progress is often followed by joy and excitement about the work. “This time it looks good! I feel more positive about this project and my work than I’ve felt in a long time,” one programmer wrote after she’d completed a small but difficult task. This kind of rich inner work life improves performance, which further supports inner work life — a positive spiral.
When we asked 669 managers from companies around the world to rank five employee motivators in terms of importance, they ranked “supporting progress” dead last. Fully 95 percent of these managers failed to recognize that progress in meaningful work is the primary motivator, well ahead of traditional incentives like raises and bonuses.”