“The workman of today works every day in his life at the same tasks, and this fate is no less absurd. But it is tragic only at the rare moments when it becomes conscious.” – Albert Camus, The Myth of Sisyphus
The Harvard Business Review recently published a paper that challenges the way employers see motivation. They asked over 600 managers from dozens of companies to rank factors that have the biggest impact on employee motivation. Their choices were: recognition, incentives, interpersonal support, support for making progress and clear goals.
“Recognition for good work” came out as a clear number 1. Unfortunately, the managers had it all wrong. In a separate, multi-year survey that tracked the employees thoughts and feelings (what a novel approach, eh?) it was determined that the one item Managers ranked dead last was the most important to workers- a sense of PROGRESS.
A close analysis of nearly 12,000 diary entries, together with the writers, daily ratings of their motivation and emotions, shows that making progress in one’s work even incremental progress is more frequently associated with positive emotions and high motivation than any other workday event.
Progress matters more than anything else to us. This desire to grow, expand and overcome challenges is insatiable- and the managers that recognize this will have a much better understanding of how to encourage and motivate workers. But what does this mean for individuals? How can individuals gain greater self-motivation by understanding this principle? The answer lies in what progress means to each one of us.
When I talk to busy attorneys about desires when it comes to blogging, they have very similar concerns:
-Will blogging help me bring in business?
-Can blogging help me gain recognition for my expertise?
-Can this get me on the “short list” of experts?
-Is anybody I want to do business with reading blogs or spending time on Twitter?
What they are really asking is, can blogging help me make progress? Can it help me make progress with my network, progress in my business development and progress in the way I am perceived within my firm? If professionals don’t believe that blogging and interaction through social networks will help them progress in some way, it won’t be worth it to them. Blogging requires too much time and energy.
Progress really means very different things to different people. The #1 reason law firm lawyers cite as the reason they want to bring in more business? They feel it will substantially improve the way they are perceived within their law firm. For solo attorneys and smaller practices, they often want to blog to bring in more business because progress means survival to them. These large or small firm attorneys believe that bringing in business will help them advance the rock in one way or another.
If blogging won’t advance the rock for you, is it still worth it? Most will say no, others enjoy the connections and camaraderie that comes with blogging. The sense of feeling connected to other lawyers that are going through the same things make it worth it. In my opinion, blogging is way too much work for it to serve as nothing more than a glorified water cooler.
What does progress mean to you? If you don’t have a clear idea, you may not have what it takes to wake up again tomorrow and resume pushing that rock up the hill.
-Hat tip to Charles Green for pointing out the HBR article to me.