The Progress Principle

Favorite quote from the author:

Of all things that can boost emotions, motivations, and perceptions during a workday, the single most important thing is making progress in meaningful work. - Teresa Amabile & Steven J Kramer

Back when Google was still considered a startup, companies from around the world would blindly copy their corporate culture. They emulated the surface items like the free food, ping pong tables, wifi shuttles, etc. But they forgot to look under the hood, where the real culture lived. 

As Larry Page and Sergey Brin once said, “Our main benefit is a workplace with critical projects, where employees can contribute and grow.”

There are three types of events that need to be in place in order to get optimum-level performance out from employees -

  1. Progress (events signifying progress),
  2. Catalysts (events supporting the work) and
  3. Nourishers (events helping the person)

The Progress (“Power of meaningful accomplishment”): Authors found that people with good work-life balance are more likely to pay better attention to the work, become deeply engaged in their team’s and project, and stick desire to doing a great job. 

They also found that people with bad work-life balance, the opposite happens - they are more likely to get distracted from their work, disengage from their team’s and projects and quickly give up on the goals that are set for them.

One of the most basic human desires is self-efficacy - the belief that you are capable of planning and executing the tasks required to achieve your goals. When you feel capable, you are more likely to see severe problems as real challenges and opportunities to succeed.

The Catalyst (“Power of project support”): Authors identified seven significant incentives which impacted the work-life of employees:

1. Setting clear goals. People like to understand where they are heading - both in the short and long-term.

2. Allowing autonomy. Giving people the room to achieve those goals. Micromanaging doesn’t create the type of environment where great work happens.

3. Providing resources. People need to have the tools to do what asked from them.

4. Giving enough time—but not too much. Here you need to balance the extremes of boredom and intense stress.

5. Help with the work. People should have access to other individuals in the organization who can help them achieve their objectives.

6. Learning from failures and successes. Creating an environment where people feel free to bring forward both their failures and successes to be analyzed is critical.

7. Allowing ideas to flow. When ideas can flow freely throughout the organization, work-life is in the right place.

If you can get these seven things right in your organization, you’ll be well on your way to supporting & creating meaningful progress.

The Nourishment (“Power of interpersonal support”): Authors have identified four major nourishers:

The first nourisher is respect. You can show somebody respect in some ways like :

  • You can give them recognition - everybody feels respected when their efforts are acknowledged. 
  • You can give their ideas serious attention - they’ll feel as though their insights are valued. 
  • You can deal with people honestly and with civility. When you respect people enough to do these things, you gain their trust and their commitment. 

The second nourisher is an encouragement. When was the last time you complained about somebody giving you too much encouragement? Probably never. You can do this in a couple of ways. 

  • Your enthusiasm for your work will increase the motivation of your team. 
  • You can also encourage others in their work, and make sure they know that you believe they can do it.

The third nourisher is emotional support. People feel more connected to others in employment when their emotions are taken care well. So practice as much empathy as you possibly can. 

Finally, the fourth nourisher is affiliation. Building personal bonds between coworkers is important. Finding ways for people to meet face-to-face on a regular basis and have fun together isn’t just a nice thing to do.


Companies which dwell on above three principle’s are the one which employees love working with. Take simple steps to practice these principles.