We call this phenomenon the progress principle; it works because people want to feel that they are contributing to something that matters. The new year presents a great opportunity for managers to put the progress principle into action.
- First, note the progress made by your team or organization over the past year — the major accomplishments and the small wins, too. And communicate the list broadly. All too often, progress gets ignored as people move from one task or project to another. Simply noting what was accomplished and how it contributed to the goals of the organization can have a big impact on how people feel about themselves, the organization, and the work they do. Wesley, a researcher at a chemicals firm that participated in our study, made clear how much it meant to him when his VP did this at a holiday celebration: "We had a wonderful Christmas celebration, during which time our VP and Director of R&D reflected on our terrific achievements over the year."