I love the concept of inner work life from the book “The Progress Principle“. Teresa Amabile and Steven Kramer describe inner work life as the “perceptions, emotions, and motivations that individuals experience as they react to and make sense of the events of their workday.” (p. 20). Based on the work of Richard Hackman, Ed Lawler III, and Greg Oldham, we’ve known for over 40 years that how folks think and feel about their jobs affects their performance. We can change how folks think, and consequently how they perform, by making improvements to the work that they do.
Inner work life follows a very similar chain of logic. Employees perform to the extent they are motivated to do so. Given that employees know what to do, how to do it, and when to do it, we have a reason to expect that they might choose to perform. Motivation to perform is strongly affected by what an employee thinks and how he or she feels about work. Perceptions can lead to emotions, and emotions can affect perceptions, and both affect motivation.
If you want to affect the motivation of your employees, you have to improve how they think and feel about the organization, the work they do, co-workers, themselves, and you. The choices you make as a manager influence the events of every work day, and it’s workday events that drive employee performance through employee motivation, emotion, and perception.
The fact that you can help improve the performance of your employees by the choices you make as a manager is great news! It’s your responsibility to learn how to partner with your employees to continually improve the work environment. In future posts, I’ll share with you more specific thoughts from Amabile and Kramer on how to avoid negative and promote positive events at work.
What do you think? Please share your thoughts in the comment section below!