By Teresa M. Amabile and Steve J. Kramer

The central driver of a creative, productive performance is the quality of a person’s “inner work life.” Peoples’ “inner work lives” are the mix of emotions, motivations, and perceptions they experience throughout their workdays. The happier people are, the more interested they are in their work; furthermore, the more positively they view management, the better their inner work lives will be.

The following factors determine the quality of a person’s inner work life:

*Progress: Any steps forward in the work of an individual or a team

*Catalysts: Actions that directly support work, including help from an individual or team.

*Nourishers: Events like demonstrations of respect or words of encouragement from others.

*Setbacks: Any obstacles preventing work from moving forward.

*Inhibitors: Actions that either fail to support or actively support work.

*Toxins: Discouraging or undermining events.

Throughout their research, the authors discovered the “progress principle,” or the idea that progress in meaningful work is the most potent, positive contributor to a person’s inner work life. For managers to ensure people are motivated, committed, and happy, they must support their daily progress by providing them with the time, resources, respect, and recognition necessary to make their work meaningful.

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