The 4-Drive Model of Employee Motivation as we’ve discussed (here and here) provides a very robust theory that when applied, can help companies increase the motivation of their employees. One of the key tenants of the Four Drive Theory is that each individual is motivated by all four drives (A: Acquire & Achieve, B: Bond & Belong, C: Challenge & Comprehend, and D: Define & Defend) but that each individual’s motivational profile will be different (i.e., one employee might be driven more by drives A & C compared to another employee who is more motivated by B & D or B & C).
The important thing to understand here is that everyone’s motivation is different!
Which can be a problem since most companies don’t customize their incentive plans down to the individual. Often an organization’s customization comes down to offering a few additional spurts throughout the year. So unless the company hires only people with a specific motivational profile, some employees will not be as motivated as they could be.
[This article was first published in September of 2009]
It has been interesting how much attention has been paid to Dan Pink’s latest message on motivation that was presented at TED. The number of tweets, blogs, and other messages about this have been huge. We ourselves highlighted the speech here on this blog a couple of weeks ago (http://wp.me/pypb9-31 ).
What I find interesting and a little worrisome, is the idea that many are taking from Dan’s presentation that all incentives (or at least most) are bad. I disagree 100% with that concept. I would like to expand the conversation to explore why.
The debate about intrinsic vs extrinsic motivation has been going on for a long time. The candle experiment presented by Pink was done in the 1950’s. Deci & Ryan research from 1970’s and 1980’s suggested that extrinsic rewards can decrease intrinsic motivation. Alfie Kohn wrote about how he thought extrinsic rewards were bad in “Punished by Rewards” in the 1990’s. All of this research suggested a negative correlation between extrinsic rewards and intrinsic motivation.
However, that is not the only research out there! Research based on both real life corporate performance data and academic experiments show a different side to this debate.
First, performance data from a number of sources points to an increase in performance when incentives are used. Stajkovic and Luthans’ meta-analysis of 72 contingent based behavior programs found that money incentives increased performance by 23%, social recognition increased performance by 17%, and feedback increased performance by 10%. BI, a performance improvement company, has shown increases of over 300% between a control group and an incentivized group in sales performance.
Those are hard numbers to ignore!
Also, Paul Hebert does a nice job of highlighting research by the International Society for Performance Improvement that indicate a 22% increase in performance for individual incentives and 44% for team based incentives – (see it here http://tiny.cc/nHfAj – he also discusses some other arguments around Dan Pink’s message).
Second researchers have found that the way that incentives are structured has a significant impact on their performance as well as on the impact they have on intrinsic motivation. Work by Eisenberger, Cameron and Pierce show that extrinsic rewards, if structured correctly, can actually increase intrinsic reward. They state, “The findings suggest that reward procedures requiring ill-defined or minimal performance convey task triviality, hereby decreasing intrinsic motivation. Reward procedures requiring specific high task performance convey a task’s personal or social significance, increasing intrinsic motivation.” Specific to creativity, Eisenberger and Cameron “concluded that decremental effects of reward on intrinsic task interest occur under highly restricted, easily avoidable conditions and that positive effects of reward on generalized creativity are readily attainableby using procedures derived from behavior theory” [emphasis added]. Yet Dan Pink does not reference any of their work in his book (see here for some research articles that point to how extrinsic rewards can increase creativity: Eisenberger, Armeli, and Pretz, Eisenberger and Rhoades, and Eisenberger, Cameron and Pierce)
In our own work, we’ve seen that when individuals are given a choice in choosing levels of goals and subsequent rewards, they have an increased motivation to choose (and achieve) higher goals than what management would have given them.
That being said, Dan Pink has gotten the discussion flowing on this – which I think is very good. He has also highlighted the fact that most organizations only see one lever to pull when trying to impact employee motivation – i.e. pay systems. As he points out, there are other aspects that influence employee’s motivation. This is vital. To improve performance, creativity, and accountability businesses need to look at more than just rewards! I hope that this will help expand the use of other motivators!
Dan talks about Autonomy, Mastery and Purpose – these fit right into the Four Drive Model of Employee Motivation. Autonomy and Mastery align with our Drive to Challenge and Comprehend, while purpose fit nicely with the Drive to Defend. What Dan leaves out is the power that the Drive to Bond has on motivating employees.
Overall, I think the discussion that will result from Dan’s presentation is great, I just hope that it doesn’t get boiled down to the simple sound bite that “incentives are bad.”
UPDATE APRIL 1, 2011
Let’s start with the positive: Dan’s book has done very well and has helped focus people on the the need for looking beyond the pay system to help drive motivation throughout the business. This is a very, very positive impact.
Now for the bad: the mantra that “incentives are bad” has been one of the larger themes to arise from the success of his book. This is not a positive impact. It has led to a number of non-experts jumping on the bandwagon expounding their personal belief that all pay-for-performance measures should be gotten rid of. That incentives themselves are bad. And that people will be 100% fully motivated if we can just figure out how to make jobs more autonomous, provide mastery and have a purpose. Of course, this doesn’t really account for a lot of what really happens in the world as we know it.
Moving forward, I would like to propose that the discussion around this topic is good – as long as we look at all the research and at how incentives should / should not be used. We need to look at all the tools in our tool belt – that includes things such as Mastery, Autonomy and Purpose – but also includes other things like rewards.
Let me know your thoughts – click on the comment section below!
Dan Airely, Richard Thaley, Cass Sunstein, Daniel Kahneman, Ran Kivitz, and many more psychology and behavioral economics researchers have shown that while we like to think of ourselves as rational, thinking human beings who are out to optimize our well being, we aren’t.
In fact, we are very far from it.
Sharon Begley at Newsweek wrote this interesting blog “The Limits of Reason” in it, she states, “But as psychologists have been documenting since the 1960s, humans are really, really bad at reasoning. It’s not just that we follow our emotions so often, in contexts from voting to ethics. No, even when we intend to deploy the full force of our rational faculties, we are often as ineffectual as eunuchs at an orgy.”
We see this all the time. I wrote about it in my earlier post from today “5 Lessons from the Maze.” We tend to act and behave in very non-rational ways. There are lots of irrational types of behavior and thinking and lots of theory’s about them (i.e., Loss Aversion, Status Quo Bias, Gambler’s Fallacy, Hedonistic Bias, Anchoring, Reciprocity, Inequity Aversion, etc…).
Here is what is interesting – we tend to still design our incentive programs and our motivational strategies based on believing that people act in a rational manner. We create programs that have 10 different ways to earn, with multipliers, qualifiers, and ratchet effects. We create programs with multiple components and factors that we think will drive specific behaviors and elicit particular performance results. We believe we know what people want and use only extrinsic rewards to drive our results.
Ok, this is a little bit of a teaser…we are in the process of doing a major overhaul of how we look at the 4-Drive Model. We’ve talked about the need to update this model before (see here and here). We are underway in getting that developed and should be launching it the first quarter of 2011.
Here is a sneak peak…the four main motivations as we’ve defined them are now renamed and constitute different elements:
1. Personal Motivation- focus on the intrinsic motivators that we have and encompasses the Drive to Challenge & Comprehend
2. Reward Motivation- focus is on the extrinsic motivators that we have and encompasses the Drive to Acquire & Achieve
3. Social Motivation- focus is on the social drives that motivate us and includes the Drive to Bond & Belong
4. Passion Motivation (this name is still being hotly debated – but for now its what we are running with)… – focus is on the motivational element of purpose and passion – including defending one’s honor and tribe
I have been touting the 4-Drive Model of Employee Motivation since I first read the 2008 Harvard Business Review article “Employee Motivation: A Powerful New Model” by Nohria, , Groysberg, and Lee. It is a powerful theory on human motivation in general, and in particular, employee motivation. First presented in the 2002 book, “Driven: How Human Nature Shapes Our Choices” by Lawrence and Nohria, the model outlines four main drives of motivation.
At the Lantern Group, we’ve been working with this model for almost three years now. We’ve posted on it several times in this blog (see 4-Drive Model here, Impact on Leaders here, and other info here, here, here, here and here for just a few examples).
It’s good – but not perfect.
Right away we realized that it needed to be tweaked.
We do a lot of work helping improve how teams operate. Some of it is straight old fun team building – you know the type where you go off-site for a day and do different types of games and activities (note – some people love these types of programs and others detest them with a passion). Other programs we do are much more intense and involve really working on specific team issues and developing action plans for greater collaboration, communication, or productivity.
We’ve worked with big teams. We’ve worked with small teams. We’ve done programs for executives and for line-workers. We’ve worked with teams that are working well and just want to get to that next level and teams that really are on their last leg and need immediate urgent care or they will implode.
We have done one hour fun sessions. We’ve created on-going programs that last months and require intensive work by the participants.
Regardless of the type of team development we are doing – it is also part of building a more motivational organization.
First, if you have not watched Joss Whedon’s Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog starring Neil Patrick Harris, Felicia Day, and Nathan Fillion – please, please do. It is funny….ha, ha, ha, he, he, ha…. (ok, I need to work on my laugh – you’ll see the connection after watching).
Joss Whedan on why he developed Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog:
I was in South Dakota last week on a family vacation. First off, I forget how beautiful South Dakota is and all that it has to offer. Secondly, there are some really, really humongous carvings there…
The original idea for Mount Rushmore is credited to South Dakota historian Doane Robinson who thought that it would increase tourism (he was a pretty insightful man). His idea was to carve local famous people into some of the granite mountains of the Black Hills. In 1924, after working on Stone Mountain, GA, sculptor Gutzon Borglum was brought in to carve the mountain.
Borglum expanded on the original idea and wanted it to be a National monument that focused on our presidents. He insisted that his life’s work would not be spent immortalizing regional heroes but insisted that the work demanded a subject national in nature and timeless in its relevance to history.
Borglum started work on Mt. Rushmore in 1927 at the age of 60. He worked the rest of his life on the mountain.
I was reading an the transcribed copy from a conversation between Ira Flatow and Dr. Paul Bloom on the NPR show Science Friday. This show was titled, “Why we like the things we like” and I think it highlights some very interesting insights that we could all learn from.
The following excerpt is a great example of the Drive to Challenge and Comprehend.
FLATOW: Well, you led into a topic I wanted to ask you about, and that is the pleasure of just learning about things. It’s – you know, just knowing more. I mean, I find that extremely pleasurable, and I’m sure a lot of our listeners do, or else they wouldn’t be tuned to this program.
The 4-Drive Model of Employee Motivation’s 3rd drive is the Drive to Challenge and Comprehend. The drive focuses on our innate desire to learn more about the world around us and to not be bored.
I like to call this the “4-year old drive.”
If you’ve ever tried to get a 4-year old dressed quickly, you know what I mean – they want to do it themselves. It is the challenge of being able to button their shirt or put on their own shoes that they are striving for. Or think about a 4-year old sitting at dinner with a group of adults who are talking (i.e., boring) and think of the trouble that they get themselves into trying to add some excitement (or learn something new). For instance, my 4-year old was bored and decided to see what meatballs in a glass of milk would taste like…you see what I mean.
So here are three tips to help increase the C drive:
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