I once worked at a place where I just dreaded going to “creative” meetings. While each individual sitting around the table was hired for their creativity, it wasn’t valued at the meetings. Ideas would be shared and quickly shot down or ignored by leadership. It didn’t take long to realize that not saying anything at all was better than being shut down or worse, sharing an idea with no acknowledgement and then watching leaders take the credit for it down the road. People were not happy in those meetings and productivity diminished the remainder of the day as heads drooped in gloom and defeat. Soon, employees began leaving for greener pastures. Some became involved in other areas of the company where they felt their ideas were listened to and valued. Those that stayed felt obligated or stuck, hoping that change was just around the corner.
When people aren’t happy—either at work that is paid or unpaid—their productivity diminishes and they’ll likely consider moving on to work that is fulfilling and valued. In chapters 3 and 4 of The Progress Principle, authors Amabile and Kramer dig deeper into the inner work life and what keeps employees motivated and productive. Here are a few key points to focus on as you read:
Creativity Booster—the diary study conducted by the authors revealed that there is a definitive connection between positive emotion and creativity. If people are happy in their career, their more likely to be creative and positive about the work they’re doing. Psychologists call this the “incubation effect”—a pleasant mood stimulates greater breadth in thinking; which can linger and build for days.
People Are Perceptive—Employees will see their organization and their leaders in a positive light if they feel their environment is one where collaboration, cooperation, and input are valued. People want their ideas heard and evaluated fairly.
Intrinsic Motivation—People are motivated more by intrinsic things such as the enjoyment or satisfaction of a job well done, than by extrinsic motivation such as the promise of rewards. Again, creativity can be affected by what type of motivators are being used—intrinsic will win out every time.
The Progress Principle—While there are many things that influence a positive inner work life, the authors found that the single most powerful piece for progress is meaningful work. People want to be part of something that’s fulfilling and worthwhile. Feedback is a powerful tool for motivation and the work itself can often provide the most worthwhile feedback.
Think On This
What boosts your creativity? How do you evoke creativity in your team? In what ways do you encourage your team to contribute new ideas? How can you help bolster intrinsic motivation among your team? How are you instilling an environment of collaboration and cooperation?