I found this summary of Lawrence and Nohria’s “Drive” and thought that it was a nice summation of the book. Josh Kaufmann does a nice job of laying out the key insights to the theory and some good ideas on how to apply the theory into the real business world. I really like the final comment by Kaufmann regarding adding a drive around “feel.” It is an interesting concept that I’m going to explore in more detail.
Many of you have read the guest post by Kristen Swadley where she reviews her research on the 4-Drive Model. Here is her Senior Honors Thesis presentation which goes into the details of her study and provides a wonderful overview of what her research uncovered.
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.
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.
Our 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!
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.
Increasingly we are seeing data that engaged employees drive business success. As the economy recovers at the current snail’s pace, companies are also looking at their employee engagement scores deciding they’d better do something about it now before wholesale exodus occurs by their greatest resource.
Proactive talent managers planned for this factor 3 years ago.
Where are your engagement planning efforts at currently?
Just this week, another study was released by The Brand Union, a brand strategy and design consultancy. This recent study surveyed 680 U.S. professionals revealing emotional engagement outweighs other forms of employee interaction, offering critical insights for executives who want to improve employee engagement health and create business efficiencies during lean times.
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:
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