May 2011 – Behavior Matters!

Month: May 2011

How to answer the question: “What do you make?”

This is from a blog for men call All-Swagga (don’t let the name fool you – it really isn’t about swagga at all but about being true and honest).   This is from an author Taylor Mali – by far one of the most powerful responses to this question I’ve ever seen.

You want to know what I make? I make kids wonder, I make them question. I make them criticize. I make them apologize and mean it. I make them write, write, write. And then I make them read. I make them spell definitely beautiful, definitely beautiful, definitely beautiful over and over and over again until they will never misspell either one of those words again. I make them show all their work in math. And hide it on their final drafts in English.  I make kids work harder than they ever thought they could.  I can make a C+ feel like a Congressional medal of honor and an A- feel like a slap in the face. How dare you waste my time with anything less than your very best. I make them understand that if you got this (brains) then you follow this (heart) and if someone ever tries to judge you by what you make, you give them this (the finger). Let me break it down for you, so you know what I say is true: I make a goddamn difference! What about you? – Taylor Mali

So what do you make? 

Do you make a difference?  Is your job something that you feel so proud about that it transcends dollars and makes an impact on the world? For me, right now, no.  But for me the question isn’t about today – it is about what I can do tomorrow.  And the day after that and so on…  And the answer to that question is yes – a big, hell yes!

So ask yourself this: can you answer this question with as much conviction and force as Taylor Mali?  Do you have the passion for what you do to be able to make a response to this question like this?

If you don’t, what are you going to do about it? 


I found this to be beautiful – a reminder of all the little things in this world (the good, bad and ugly) that make it so very wonderful.  Hope you like it too.

Implications of 4-Drive Research: Guest Blog by Kristen Swadley

Guest blog by Kristen Swadley

Four Drive Theory of Employee Motivation

According to the Four-Drive Model the drives to acquire, bond, comprehend, and defend motivate every human being and should all be addressed in the workplace. However, it is critical for managers and leaders to recognize that employees are motivated by the four drives at differing levels. My recent study, which is discussed in the post “New Research on The Four-Drive Theory of Employee Motivation”, revealed that a person’s demographic background effects which of the drives he or she values the most.

This information could have three potentially significant effects on the way managers implement the Four-Drive Model of motivation.

First, managers can use the results from the study to fine-tune motivation techniques in order to best fit the strongest drives of each employee. Workers should be tested to determine which of the drives is most motivating on down to which provides the least motivation. This will allow managers to not only implement all four drives, but to build custom motivation plans based on what drives the employee the most.

Second, managers can find ways to fulfill each of the drives in order to increase motivation. For example, employees who had sought higher education valued the drive to comprehend more than those who had not obtained a college degree. Managers can make note of employees with higher educational levels and ensure that they are given ample opportunity to express ideas, problem-solve, and engage in challenging and meaningful work. Those with a strong drive to acquire should be given recognition and opportunity for advancement. Employees with a strong drive to bond need opportunities to work in teams and collaborate with coworkers, while those with a strong drive to defend need to see fairness and just processes in the workplace. Research has shown that increasing fulfillment in all four drives leads to much higher motivation in the workplace, but if that is focused specifically to what drives the employee the most without disregarding the other three drives, I believe this would have additional positive impacts on motivation.

Finally, managers should have some way to assess employees in relation to how they perceive that each drive is being fulfilled and they are being given enough opportunities to excel in those areas that most strongly motivate them to go the extra mile. Whether through employee questionnaires or informal meetings, it is a critical step to get feedback from employees so that any necessary changes can be made to further increase motivation in the workplace.

Feel free to comment with any questions or feedback.

Author info:

Ms. Swadley recently completed her thesis titled:  Managing Motivation in the Workplace: A Demographic Dissection of the Four Drive Theory.   She is currently at Missouri Southern State University.  This article is based on the research that she completed in her thesis. 

Today I’m Grateful For: Skype

My wife is in Chile for 10 days for work…we got to Skype tonight for the first time since she left. 35 minutes of free talk (she doesn’t have a video camera on her computer). Nice to be able to connect and not worry about hundreds of dollars of phone bills!

New Research on The Four Drive Theory of Employee Motivation

Rising arrow 2011Our knowledge of the Four-Drive Model of Employee Motivation is constantly being expanded as researchers study it and organizations work with it.  This is exciting because it allows us to use this theory more effectively to drive performance and increase employees motivation.

Recently I have been in contact with Kristen Swadley, a student at Missouri Southern State University.  Ms. Swadley has added to our understanding of Four-Drive Model by conducting research to see if demographic differences such as age, gender, marital status, tenure, income,  job role, or education level impact any of the four drives.  Analyzing data from 315 surveys, Ms. Swadley found some interesting findings that point to both the robustness of the Four-Drive Model as well as how specific demographics correlate to some of the drives.

The following information is from the thesis she completed around this study:

Regarding gender the analysis showed that there was no difference between males and females in their tendency towards a particular drive.  Thus the four-drive model does not have a gender bias.

However, there was a relationship between the age of respondents and the drive to defend – older participants (over age 41) showed a higher correlation with the drive than the younger age (under 25).

The drive to defend was also found to be higher in married and divorced participants compared to those who listed their status as single.

Tenure showed a correlation only with the drive to bond where unemployed individuals rated that drive significantly less than those who were employed (specifically, those employed for 0-3 years and over 12 years – which is an interesting fact in itself).

Income levels showed a correlation between both the drive to bond and the drive to comprehend.  Those individuals who earned under $19,999 placed a significantly lower value on both these drives than those in the higher earning brackets.

There was a difference in the drive to comprehend between various work roles.  Specifically, there was a difference in how both middle management and trained and professionals viewed that drive compared to skilled labor  (with middle management and trained professionals placing a much higher significance on it).

Unsurprisingly, educational level also showed a correlation with the drive to comprehend, with those participants who had achieved a graduate degree valuing this drive much more than those with just a high-school degree or some college.

This information helps us as leaders start to understand how we can better use the levers we have to motivate our employees.  Ms. Swadley puts it best when she says, “While it is true by the tenets of the Four Drive Theory that all humans are motivated in some way by the four basic drives, it is important to take into account that all employees are motivated by the four drives at differing levels. A manager with the intention of implementing the Four Drive Theory in the workplace should have employees tested to find out which of the drives are most important to the individual on down to which of the drives provides the least amount of motivation.”

We hope to have Ms. Swadley right a guest post in the upcoming weeks to explore a little deeper what her findings mean for managers and leaders – until then, please let us know what you think by leaving a comment.  Thanks!

Some fun motivational images – enjoy!

“We are human beings, not machines”

I just read a blog post by Michael Lee Stallard entitled “Should Leaders Care About Employee Happiness?” in which he talks about how happiness is important to business and how organizations need both “task” and “relationship” excellence.  What struck me hard however, were two simple sentences he wrote:

“We are human beings, not machines.  Emotion matters, even in business.”

How very, very true.  “Emotion matters, even in business.”

This should be a no brainer.  We shouldn’t even need to bring this up and yet we do need to bring it up because leaders often forget this.  We lead like our employees are parts of a big organizational machine and if we just push and pull the right levers, we will get the desired output.  We build systems looking for optimal performance and use incentives as if they were the gasoline that runs our engines.

We forget that “we are human beings, not machines.”  And as Dan Ariely points out, we are “irrational” human beings.

We need to stop thinking about business as a machine, and think about it more as a volunteer service club.  Imagine you are the president of a Rotary Club and you need to get your club members to work on a project.  You don’t offer them an incentive.  You don’t command that they give up their Saturday to build a music park in North East Minneapolis or spend two years working to build a high school in Haiti (FYI – our Rotary Club did both of these – see here).  You don’t give them new computerized systems that churn out delivery plans.  You can’t.  Service clubs don’t work that way…

What you do is you appeal to their “humanness” and their “emotion.” 

  • You tap into their drive to want to make a difference.
  • Ensure that they feel that they are being challenged and give them an opportunity to grow.
  • You make sure that they have friends in the club that they bond with so they can work on the projects together.
  • You make the work as fun as you can.
  • You focus on the good that you are doing in the community and the world.
  • You appeal to people’s pride in what they can bring to the table for this project.
  • You connect them to others with similar interests.
  • You give them opportunities to develop and lead.
  • You support them when they run into problems.
  • You recognize their success and hard work.
  • You celebrate success!

Yes, if you want to be an effective leader, you definitely need to focus on the very human side of things.  Remember “We are human beings, not machines.  Emotions matter, even in business.”

Would love your human thoughts on this – click on “leave a comment” below

What was the best incentive program you’ve ever been part of?

We’d like to know what you think was the best incentive program that you’ve ever been a part of – either as a participant, a designer, consultant or manager.

  • What was “it” that made the program stand out for you and make it special?
  • How was it different?
  • What did it do?

Leave a comment and let us know…just click below on “leave a comment”

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