Challenge 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:

  1. Stretch goals.

    Satisfying the C drive requires that organizations make work interesting and challenging.  One way of doing this is to actively engage people in achieving stretch goals.  Locke and Latham have focused on the positive performance results of goals for over 40 years.  Research shows that goals need to be achievable, but not too easy to get the biggest motivational gain.  They also need to be specific – a goal of “do your best” is not really a goal at all.

    I would also suggest that employees need to be engaged with the goal or it is meaningless…thus, the more personal a goal is, the better.  A company based goal of achieving X is great, but pretty meaningless to an hourly clerk who feels they have no input on achieving that goal.  One way to achieve this is to have employees have some input into their goal.

    Tip: Make sure that goals don’t become an item on the checklist that need to get done.  I’ve seen too many managers who give out goals but miss the boat. They miss the boat for many reasons, some main ones are:

    a)  the goals are irrelevant and the employee does not feel like they have any influence over them or that they don’t impact the employees job
    b)  there is no way to effectively measure the goals success and it becomes a beauty judging contest on whether or not the goal was met (i.e., subjective)
    c)  there is no follow-up after the goal has been set
    d)  goals are given our so frequently for any activity that they become meaningless

  2. Training programs

    Organizations that provide training to their employees are more likely to satisfy the C drive than those that don’t.  To maximize this impact, the training should be more than just technical training that is required for someone to do their job, but also include training sessions that will stretch people beyond their comfort zone.  This might seem unproductive, but it can also lead to significant enhancements to the C drive as well as providing opportunity for

    Tip: Brown bag lunch seminars.  Have individuals sign up to give a talk about a favorite hobby or expertise over the lunch hour.  This does not need to be about business, in fact, it is often more impactful if it is about something totally unrelated to your business.

  3. Special projects

    Special projects are a great way to give an individual or a small team a challenge that can engage them.  I’ve seen a company put together a special task force created out of sales representatives that researched getting into a new market space.  This 2-month special project was on top of what they were already doing, but it created such excitement in the team that they worked nights and weekends on it.  In the end, they presented their findings to management who took their suggestions (with a few tweaks) and implemented them.  You could not find a group of more motivated employees than those sales reps on that task force.

    Tip: Special projects don’t have to be huge undertakings.  They can be created to solve simple problems or add new benefits.  Think about project teams for such things as: using behavioral economics to improve our forms, how to engage customers while they are on hold, streamlining the recycling process, creating a cool employee lounge for $200, identifying future trends that the company needs to explore, etc…

Bonus Tip: Have a job buddy day each month.  This is where you assign people to have a job buddy that they get to shadow another worker.  This allows them to learn more about that person’s job and also inform that person about theirs.  Also having a job rotation program is significant.

Do you have any ideas on how to increase the C-Drive?  Would love to hear about them!