The Power of Micro-Experiences in the Workplace

Extracted 06SEP2011 from

Teresa Amabile, a professor at Harvard Business School, and Steven Kramer, an independent researcher, are the authors of “The Progress Principle.”

Over the past decade, we researched the micro-level causes behind this macro-level problem. To gain real-time perspective into everyday work lives, we collected  nearly 12,000 electronic diary entries from 238 professionals in seven different companies. Our study charted each person’s psychological state each day, and asked respondents to describe one event that stood out during that day. Our analysis revealed their inner work lives — the usually hidden perceptions, emotions and motivations that people experience as they react to and make sense of events in their workdays... 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.

[Curator: The work of Amabile and Kramer is a tour de force with exceedingly clear and direct implications for leaders in any domain, especially given Amabile's even more extensive body of work on creativity in the workplace. If there is one thing that a "manager" should do to become more of a leader, s/he should create a climate of attention to micro-experiences, experiences such as those documented so meticulously in this body of work, daily experiences that are as profound and causally potent as they are ordinary. Such experiences both reveal and foster either progress or regress (there is "no neutral"), thus, attention to them allows the skills of management to be applied wisely and with success (i.e., with leadership). See also,]