Are Your Employees Taking Pride In Their Work?

August 31, 2016

I was reading this HBR article and thought it was stating the obvious: If a person has pride in their work they are likely to work harder at it and persevere when the going gets tough or challenging.

Yet how often do you hear that first P word: Pride, in your office or factory floor? I suspect your answer is not very often, if at all.

When I work with my clients I am truly surprised at the reaction I get when I mention that P word. It’s as if I have released some pent up frustration and energy!

Most individuals suddenly grasp the subject of pride and express strong desires to renew their pride at work and have all their colleagues feel the same. Maybe it’s some team bonding thing, but once people pride gets mentioned there seems to be a renewed energy to move forward with new ideas and actions.

Now obviously there is a lot of hard work to turn that raw emotion into serious business action and direction, but if you are to take just one thing away from this blog, make pride a subject that can be talked about.

The article goes on to explain how pride can help individuals to keep working towards a long term goal, i.e. persevere with a tough job and see it through. The author points to research flowing from the famous “Marshmallow test” by Walter Mischel that showed how the ability to delay gratification is a key predictor of success in life.

Or to put it another way, if you are willing to make a sacrifice now in order to persevere in the face of difficulties for a future gain then you are more likely to be productive and innovative and therefore successful. I think I do that sometimes when I set myself a goal of finishing a blog before rewarding myself with a cup of tea and some cake!!

The author then states what seems obvious to most of us – rather than relying on willpower to keep us working on a long term goal, pride can make it easier because it enhances the perceived value of future rewards. Getting back to my blog and cake example. Because I have pride in my work I can more easily get that blog written because I can perceive a greater value in the cake reward at the end.

So What’s The Advice For Managers On Developing Pride?

The author suggests developing team pride and giving targeted praise on specific discrete tasks. I would also encourage managers to introduce the pride word in team meetings – have a discussion about wanting everybody to feel proud about their work. It might feel a bit strange to start with but I guarantee you pride is an untapped energy source for great work and as the HBR article suggests, it also drives perseverance and productivity. Go on give it a try!

Off for some cake now!