The Power of Small Wins by Teresa M. Amabile and Steven J. Kramer (HBR, May 2011)

The Idea in Brief

What could be more important for managers than increasing their teams’ productivity? Yet most managers labor under misconceptions about what motivates employees—particularly knowledge workers—to do their best work.

On the basis of more than a decade of research, which included a deep analysis of daily diaries kept by teammates on creative projects, the authors clarify the matter once and for all: What motivates people on a day-to-day basis is the sense that they are making progress.

Managers who take this finding to heart will easily see the corollary: The best thing they can do for their people is provide the catalysts and nourishers that allow projects to move forward while removing the obstacles and toxins that result in setbacks. That is easily said, but for most managers it will require a new perspective and new behaviors. A simple checklist, consulted daily, can help make those habitual.

This HBR In Brief presents key ideas from a full-length Harvard Business Review article.



Gary Riccio

As a partner and as a consultant, I deliver value by identifying, aggregating, and developing previously undervalued assets--people and systems, internal and external, public and private, scientific and technical--for exceptional impact.