It makes intuitive sense that how people feel day to day impacts their contributions on the job. New research by Teresa Amabile and Steven Kramer “reveals the dramatic impact of employees’ inner work lives—their perceptions, emotions, and motivation levels—on several dimensions of performance.”

Your inner work life boils down to your emotions, level of motivation and perceptions throughout the day. What is the link between good or bad days and how people perform?

People perform better when their workday experiences include more positive emotions, stronger intrinsic motivation (passion for the work), and more favorable perceptions of their work, their team, their leaders, and their organization.

Not surprisingly how people are managed has a significant impact on the quality of their inner work lives. This study found two key differentiating factors when they examined managerial impact. The first was enabling employees to make progress – to achieve a goal, reach a milestone or solve a problem. This means not getting in the way and actively removing obstacles that derail progress.

The second way to positively impact performance is having managers treat employees decently. Interestingly, this dimension was strongly linked with the previous one around making progress. Praising people for work that did not make progress did not have a positive impact on performance, probably because such fail praise smacks of insincerity. Employees felt better about their work and contributed more if their managers expressed appreciation for valid results and achievements.

The bottom line is that if you want high performance, it isn’t enough to set the bar high. You need to attend to the inner work life of your people as well.


Need help boosting your people’s performance? Contact Humanergy.

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