“A new survey [of 11,000 employees] finds the happiest employees work at companies with fewer than 100 employees. What can you learn from that? … If your company is bigger than 100 people, how do you create the same level of engagement and happiness that the smaller businesses do?
Much of the answer lies in giving power away. In smaller businesses, employees are trusted because they have to be–there’s no spare capacity for too much oversight. That freedom is incredibly productive and, in my experience, very rarely abused. Instead of competing for bonuses, incentives, or recognition, people work because seeing the immediate impact of their contribution is reward enough. Nothing motivates people more than the developing sense of their own value and capacity.
In bigger companies, this internal motivation is often distracted or drowned out by process, procedure, targets, and incentives. The individual starts to feel insignificant, compliant rather than creative. But this is not inevitable if they’re given freedom and trusted to use it well. Interestingly, the hallmark of a great big business is how small you can make it feel.”