June 2009 – Behavior Matters!

Month: June 2009

Motivation Monday Tip: Honesty


Today’s Motivation Monday Tip requires an honest look at identifying 5 specific things that will motivate you and/or your team this week to excel.


Sometimes it can be hard to ask for feedback but today’s tip could really help your team soar this week! Schedule a 30 minute motivation meeting this week to have an honest conversation with your team on what motivates them.  

  • Ask your team, “Name 5 specific things that I can do as your manager to help support and encourage you this week to make our [insert relevant project/goal here] a huge success!”


It is time to stop procrastinating and honestly look at the tasks/projects that you are not motivated to do this week. Schedule a 15 minute motivation meeting for yourself this week. 

  • Ask yourself the following question, “What 5 things can I do this week to move forward the tasks/projects that I have the least motivation around?”

4 Drives – A Simple Story of Employee Motivation

How Companies Get Motivation Wrong

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I’ve had the wonderful opportunity to work with a number of companies on their incentive plans and sales awards programs. While a few of these companies understand how to motivate, many of them just get it wrong. Here is a short list that describes just a few of the more common mistakes that I’ve seen:

1. Focus solely on the pay plan (i.e., incentive plan, bonus, base pay). We know that employees are motivated by more than just a paycheck. Companies that do motivation right have a comprehensive plan that emphasizes more than just pay, but also teamwork, job environment, flexibility, work/life balance, opportunity for growth, new challenges, commitment to ideals, the corporate identity and a broader purpose for being there.

2. Making incentives too complex. This is typically the result of companies trying to make their incentives fair, however, if employees can’t understand their IC plan, I promise you it won’t motivate them.

3. Reward the wrong measures. Companies often reward employees for behaviors or results that don’t match the long-term strategy of the organization. In one company I worked with, all of the sales awards focused solely on revenue (because that’s what they could measure). When I talked to sales management, they needed sales people to focus on margin and conversion of competitor business. Obviously, the behavior that was being driven by the Sales Awards did not align with sales managements needs.

4. Focusing on the “cost” of the program, and not on the results. I’ve seen way too many companies focus on the cost of an incentive or sales program when they really needed to be looking at the impact it has. The cheapest solution is not always the best (not always the worst either, but the focus should be on the impact it has and the lift it can bring).

What is Your Motivation to Work After a Company Layoff?


You could feel the time was coming, closed office doors, secret management meetings, evasive answers to your questions, and efficiency consultants creating report after report about your department.  The layoff announcement was like a bomb silencing even the most prepared employee.  Next, your coworker arrives with empty boxes in hand determined to hold their head up high and not make eye contact with anyone for fear of breaking down and showing weakness.  Packing up a career into a cardboard box can feel like your contributions have been insignificant and meaningless.  

So where do you go from here now that your team has been dismantled, budgets are tighter than ever, and you are shell-shocked, in a holding pattern, waiting for the next round of layoffs that might include you.

It is time to dig deep, to go inside and find out what motivates you.  The Four-Drive Model of Employee Motivation can be your starting point for this discovery.  This mini exercise will help flush out what currently motivates you to work. Based on your answers you will see a glimpse of what is currently motivating you to get up and out of bed and go to work after surviving a layoff. 

Mini Exercise #1
Instructions: Read the following questions below and answer them honestly. Write down the appropriate response or print off the article and circle the appropriate response Yes or No

The Drive to Acquire:

  • Are you motivated to work to earn money in order to provide the basis necessities for you/you and your family?  Yes or No
  • Are you motivated to work to climb the corporate ladder and finally land the promotion and the corner office?  Yes or No

 The Drive Bond:

  • Are you motivated to work because friendship and camaraderie provides a feeling of belonging?  Yes or No
  • Are you motivated to work because working in a team environment brings out the best in your abilities?         Yes or No

 The Drive Comprehend/Challenge:

  • Are you motivated to work because you enjoy learning new skills and a good challenge?  Yes or No
  • Are you motivated to work because you love to contribute to the larger society through your work?  Yes or No

 The Drive to Defend:

  • Are you motivated to work because you believe strongly in the work your company is doing?  Yes or No
  • Are you motivated to work because you enjoy the benefits of being part of your company and you will continue to work there through good times and bad?  Yes or No

So how does knowing this help you? A layoff can be a very paralyzing and numbing experience.  Taking the time to find out what is motivating you, can help you realize what your current motives are and what actions you are taking to fulfill your drives.  By asking the questions and reflecting you may start to free yourself from helplessness and move toward empowerment.

5 Ways to Motivate Your Team

Questions on motivation? Send them here.

In today’s world it can be hard to motivate not only ourselves but also our teams.

Check out today’s Top 5 Tips for Motivating Your Team:

Manager Motivation Tips

Read More

Four Drive Model: New Theory on Employee Motivation

The Four Drive Model of Employee Motivation was presented by Lawrence and Nohria in 2002. The model is a holistic way of looking at employee motivation beyond the typical “pay” model that is prevalent in the corporate world today. I will not go into detail regarding the model here, but just give  an overview and how this model presents a new way of thinking for organizational leaders (see here for how leader’s can impact performance using it).

The Four Drive theory is based on research that shows four underlying drives – the drive to Acquire & Achieve, to Bond & Belong, to be Challenged & Comprehend and to Define & Defend.

Each of these drives are important if we are to understand employee motivation. While companies typically focus on the drive to Acquire & Achieve (i.e., base pay, incentives, etc…), the other three drives play an integral part in  fully motivating employees. Thus, the new theory provides a model for employers to look at when they are trying to find ways to increase employee engagement and motivation.

For instance, companies often pay lip service to team building as they don’t see how it really impacts performance. The Four Drive model shows that team building relates directly to the drive to Bond & Belong – which in turn can influence an employees motivation. Thus conducting a team building session should no longer be just about having fun for a few hours, it should help a company’s employees positively build and enhance the bonds they have with their co-workers.

The drive to be Challenged & Comprehend  highlights the fact that we perform better when we are not bored or “not challenged” and learning on the job.  Instead of trying to automate and simplify all work, leaders should look at how they can enhance or create challenges for employees and provide them opportunities to learn and grow.  With this in mind, organizations must look at how they are structuring their jobs, their projects, their incentives.

Organizations do not typically think of the drive to Define & Defend when they are thinking about motivation. The Four Drive model indicates that a company’s reputation, its moral bearing, the culture and what it does can all be significant factors in how motivated employees are. Think of the different motivation an employee would have working for a pharmaceutical company that is providing life saving medicines for people or a one that is out to maximize shareholder returns. Which do you think would have the more motivated workforce?

Note: Alright, a theory that is almost seven years old really isn’t new, but theories moving from academics into the real world often require a much longer time to be accepted – so I’d give this a good grade! For more information, please go to www.lanterngroup.com or www.prlawrence.com


We have done much work on increasing our understanding of the 4-Drive Model of Employee Motivation over the past year.  We are in the final stages of development for a 4-Drive Assessment that will help people understand how the four drives influence their individual motivation.  Another area of research for us was to look at how managers can use the 4-Drive Model to create programs, put in place systems, and change their behavior to increase their employee’s motivation.  All of this work has helped solidify our understanding of the 4-Drive Model and reconfirmed our belief that this is a very powerful employee motivation model.  We now understand that using this as an underlying architecture for creating a motivational workplace can be very beneficial for organizations.

Our work in this area has also shown that there are some weaknesses to the model.  For instance, “Purpose” isn’t really addressed in the model.  Purpose has been shown to be a key motivator in individuals – highlighted in Pink’s recent work but dating back to research done by Deci, Eisenberger, Locke, Lathum and most importantly Leider.  In the 4-Drive Model we have been forced to put passion under the Define & Defend Drive – but that stretches the current definition for that drive.  We are currently working on a way to integrate Purpose into the 4-Drive Model.

All in all, we still believe that the 4-Drive Model is one of the strongest and most robust models to help understand employee motivation and engagement.  We are working on developing more actionable tools and programs so that managers can both understand the model and be able to use it to increase their employee’s motivation.  It is with great anticipation that we are looking forward to the next year and taking this to the next level.


Please see Rethinking the 4-Drive Model of Employee Motivation for further thoughts on this model and how our thinking has led to new ideas.  Here are some other links to blogs we’ve written about the 4-drives Impact on Leaders here, and other four-drive info here, here, here, here and here.


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