I've begun to read a new tome entitled, The Progress Principle, which centers on the notion of "using small wins to ignite joy, engagement, and creativity at work."
The question arises early on: "How [can] companies possibly aspire to [the] double nirvana of business success and employee delight" (1)
"The secret is creating the conditions for great inner work life--the conditions that foster positive emotions, strong internal motivation, and favorable perceptions of colleagues and the work itself. Great inner work life is about the work, not the acoutrements. It starts with giving people something meaningful to accomplish [...]. It requires giving clear goals, autonomy, help, and resources--what people need to make real progress in their daily work. And it depends on showing respect for ideas and the people who create them." (1-2)
Sounds like many independent schools we know, doesn't it?! As schools, we get this. It's fundamental to who we are.
Based on 12,000 (!) daily journal reports (full stats available in the book), the authors discovered the following:
- people are more creative and productive when deeply engaged in their work, when they feel happy, and when they think highly of their coworkers, managers, and organizations (3)
- when the inner work life is positive, people are more committed to their work, and are more likely to work well with colleagues (3)
Again, I think that good independent school leadership knows, recognizes, and affirms that. Although schools have known it for years, it has been largely anecdotal, i.e. difficult to quantify. What these authors do, however, is to provide a study that combines work habits and psychology to show that inner work life is a principal driver for people...and for organizations.
The danger for schools, of course, is if they don't foster a positive inner work life. Schools that cannot recognize this principle, I think, will wallow in the rigors of mediocrity, at best; at worst, they will collapse.