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Effective Business Management Secrets

The Harvard Business Review (HBR) conducted a “diary” entry research on creatives working inside various industries spanning 27 teams. They discovered the progress principle. This lies on the observation that the emotions, motivations, and perceptions of people in a given workday — a.k.a. their “inner work life” — hangs on a single overarching factor. They need to make some progress in their work, regardless whether it is small or big. It is the hidden power of small wins for effective business management.

To start with, the study already considers the fact that people, first and foremost, already find meaning in their work. The survey was based on subjects holding professional and innovative job descriptions. What about positions that are more humble but just as essential to society?

Here is our business management leader’s guide to cultivating their employees’ passion for work. The answer is much simpler than you think. Managers actually hold more influence on their team morale than they realize. A person could hold a terribly routine job, but a great boss could make it meaningful and even enjoyable.

Phase 1: Giving Meaning to Work

A person could achieve many things, but if they don’t care about the work, it wouldn’t matter to them if they ever made progress or not. Then there are also other types of work that are routine and repetitive, with no specific end to conquer. These could range from washing an endless amount of dishes in a restaurant to looking out for patients constantly rolling in and out of the clinic. The only relief comes from completing the eight-hour workday, which leaves employees to work for the weekend, or the paycheck.

This may seem like a setback for good business management but this is actually the opportunity for managers to swoop in. Humans have an intrinsic desire to make work that matters. You could bet that the kids at school who didn’t excel in academics actually excelled in other things that mean more to them. The hiring manager may be in charge of finding the people who actually care for the work, but once the person is onboard, it is up to the team leader to ensure they know how they are contributing, and that their work means something.

Thankfully, this isn’t such an impossible task to achieve. In 1983, Steve Jobs managed to get John Sculley to leave a highly successful career at the blue-collar company PepsiCo to become the CEO of Apple with this popular line: “Do you want to sell sugared water for the rest of your life? Or do you want to come with me and change the world?” With a few simple words, he changed John Sculley’s perspective of what is a more worthwhile job to do.

Crafting meaningful work is more centered on the individual’s values than to the society as a whole. John Sculley was a leader and Steve knew that for him, a game-changing outlook is the most attractive kind of endeavor. This means that managers have to be personal when giving clarity to what the job would mean to their workers. However, please take note that this only needs to be done once or twice, in onboarding members or when they are observably discouraged. It shouldn’t be a primary concern to the manager.

Meaningful work could be as simple as contributing to the economy just by being part of the workforce. It could be helping out with family finances or taking part of a supportive, like-minded group. Sometimes, giving exceptional service or products is enough. The list for finding meaning in work is exhaustive. The key is to tug at the heartstrings of each member.

Phase 2: Understanding the Power of Progress

Now that the meaning of work has been communicated to the team, making progress is the next essential push to keep the ball of motivation rolling. Going back to the HBR diary research mentioned earlier, its results uncovered that the underlying principle to motivate employees is to give them a sense of achievement (compare charts below). In other words: make sure each worker could make consistent, meaningful progress in their work.

What is a good workday?

©HBR via

What is a bad workday?

©HBR via

However, when HBR administered a survey to 669 managers of varying levels from dozens of companies around the world, it proved that popular business management practices fail to recognize progress as a factor. The respondents were asked to rank five managerial tools in order of importance that can affect employees’ motivation and emotions: support for making progress in the work, recognition for good work, incentives, interpersonal support, and clear goals.

“95% of the managers failed to rank progress first. Only 35 managers ranked progress as the number one motivator—a mere 5%. The vast majority ranked support for making progress last as a motivator and third as an influence on emotion. They ranked “recognition for good work (either public or private)” as the most important factor in motivating workers and making them happy. In the [diary research] study, recognition certainly did boost inner work life. But it wasn’t nearly as prominent as progress. Besides, without work achievements, there is little to recognize.”

Phase 3: Injecting Small Wins

Long-term goals are hard to come by, but good business management ensures that daily progress could be made through small wins. For business process outsourcing, we use Key Performance Metrics like daily quotas for employees to have an end goal to wrap up their day while keeping track of their overall goal, which is to secure XX number of sales by the end of the quarter. Achieving at least one minor milestone on an uneventful workday could lean the inner work life to a major positive win. On the flipside, small losses can have as much, or even more, impact. Here’s how managers could support progress.

Factor 1: Recognizing the team as valuable contributors

Good business management helps support the work the employees are doing. Here’s a comprehensive chart of DO’s and their corresponding DON’T’s for business managers:

DO’s DON’T’s
Set clear goals Have no definite achievement to conquer
Allow autonomy/ownership of work; stay attuned to daily tasks of team members (ask how the employee is doing and give open-ended advice or analysis) Actively interfere with work (micromanage, take over, or reassign the work to others)
Provide sufficient resources and realistic timelines (sends the message that the work is worthwhile and valuable) Shift priorities and change minds on how to operate things (sends the message that the work may never see the light of day)
Help in the work; act as a buffer for employee productivity threats such as external resistance such as delay in timelines, lack of upper management support, etc. Fail to anticipate and intervene or inhibit daily work threats and major worst-case scenarios
Openly learn from problems and successes and quickly communicate upper management/client views (no blame games or taking things to a personal level; no hoarding of important information to use as leverage) Inadequately communicate or cascade upper management/client decisions affecting employee task load or company priorities
Allow free exchange of ideas; no judgement climate Ignore/Dismiss employee work or ideas

Factor 2: Avoid stressors: Be supportive.

Business managers need to lead the environment of their employee’s work culture. They are in charge of establishing a positive work climate so everyone could freely do the work they are called to do. The best way to do this is to model the right behavior, one event at a time. This usually means keeping cool in crunch times and understanding when the employee will fail to deliver as expected. It may also mean a prompt delivery of good news. It is essential to be intentional in setting the behavioral norm for the entire team as it takes a lot of emotional control. Therefore managers must learn to be responsive, not reactive in critical, high emotion situations.

In a 2014 survey by TINYpulse, they asked workers the question: “What motivates you to excel and go the extra mile at our organization?” From the ten options employees had to choose from, here’s what they found: (Unfortunately, making progress was not on the list.)

What motivates you to excel and go the extra mile at our organization? Survey

The art of managing a team

Maintaining a good relationship inside the workplace and keeping your team motivated takes a lot more than giving incentives. Building a strong camaraderie inside the office makes a huge difference when aiming for success. To do this, you must have the a good combination of talent, a supportive management, and the right partners who will walk with you as you develop your business.

Anderson Group BPO, Inc offers a ready and reliable team that will work with you in achieving your business goals. Hire and nurture a team of exceptional talents and keep them motivated and aimed at the right target. Have your own  customer support team instantly at a fraction of the effort and the cost to hire one in-house. We have ready services for chat, email, calls, and social media. We also offer consultancy on creating better customer experiences. Give us a call!