A recent Red Balloon report reinforces the importance of praise for workers. I’ve been blogging about the “power of small wins” which emphasises the importance of providing regular feedback on progress. This is the factor that has the greatest impact on motivation and performance, according to work at Harvard by Amabile & Kramer. It seems quite simple: provide small indicators of progress and recognition on a very regular basis. This increases the meaning that people attribute to their work, increases the likelihood they feeling positive and improves intrinsic motivation. All of which leads to better performance outcomes.

The Red Balloon report, which you can download from their website, claims that “44% of employees are convinced their manager doesn’t know what motivates them to be more productive”. The report also claims that people are “five times more likely to leave if their business provides a substandard Reward and Recognition experience.” The survey was based on responses across 4,000 businesses.

There’s clearly a big gap between what we know works, and what gets done. If you’re a manager and you’d like to do more to motivate your people, but you’re not sure how to do it, try this daily checklist. Take 5 minutes at the end of your day to reflect on the following:

What did I notice in my staff today?
  • What were people saying about themselves, their work and the organisation? How did they make sense of what was happening?
  • How were people feeling, what was the mood?
  • How motivated did they seem?
What specific events might have affected perceptions, moods and motivations today?
What can I do tomorrow to create greater clarity about goals, provide the right resources, help with the work, allow autonomy to get things done?
How can I better support people, by providing them with respect, encouragement, emotional support and strengthening my relationship with them? What is missing?
What are the things that get in the way of getting work done? How can I eliminate them?
Are there any toxins – interpersonal relationships and events that undermine people getting on with their work? How can I eliminate them?
What’s the one thing I could do tomorrow to best facilitate progress?


These five minutes can be very powerful in keeping your attention on key drivers of better performance.

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