How We Are Developing Reward & Recognition System using 4-Drive Model

How We Are Developing a Reward and Recognition System using the 4-Drive Model

I’m consulting with a 12 Billion dollar sales division of a Fortune 500 company regarding the future of their reward and recognition system.  Without going into much detail, they are trying to take a strategic approach to how they can improve the effectiveness of their reward programs.  As part of this process, we are using the 4-Drive Theory as a model to help guide how we build this system.

As one can imagine, the organization’s current reward and recognition programs rely heavily on the Drive to Acquire & Achieve.  By far, this was the predominant focus for over 90% of the components.  Additionally, our research showed that the current system has a number of legacy programs and other recognition items that are no longer strategically aligned with the organizational mission.

There are a number of ways that a reward system can be developed.  We aligned on developing a system that would tap into all four of the drives and focus on motivating actions on three specific sales behaviors.  With this in mind, we wanted to create a framework that would leverage various reward and recognition components.  That framework is shown below:

Reward and Recognition components

Within each of these four components could be a number of different programs that would be focused on driving one or more of the desired behaviors.  We also identified that while any of the components could activate any of the four motivational drives, that particular drives would be more readily activated by programs within specific components.  We’ve mapped this below:

R&R and the 4-Drives

So while both the incentive compensation and the non-cash components easily activated the drives to acquire and challenge, group trips and other recognition were more likely to tap into the drives to bond and defend.   This provided us with a framework to think about how we could leverage all four drives with various reward and recognition programs.

While this is a high level perspective, it does provide a company with way to think strategically about their reward and recognition system that aligns it with the 4-Drive Model.  We were able to map out specific programs within this framework that provided both a means for effectively driving behavior as well as leveraging all four drives.

To our knowledge, this framework has not been used previously within a large company.  We are very excited about how this is being applied and the impact that it will have.
Please let us know if you have any questions or thoughts by leaving a comment below.   Thanks.








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  1. You know me – I think you’re missing a ton of other influence techniques and focusing too much on the “deliverable” side of the equation. Are you how are incorporating psychological triggers of behavior outside the “stuff”?

    • knelson4

      Good to hear from you my friend. You know me as well…I agree, that there is more than just the ”deliverable” side of things – much more! This is the framework that we bucket the Rewards and Recognition components in. The real power is the 4-Drives and how do you set up these programs and the processes around them to drive the right behaviors. It comes down to developing out the specific framework for the various programs inside of each of these and understanding how they integrate. For instance, they have an annual cash incentive program. Without causing a significant backlash, we are drastically changing the rule structure and measures on that portion to drive the right behaviors – but we also are trying to build into that rule structure a component of challenge (or Mastery from the AMP model). We are using the other recognition, which focuses more on symbolic rewards to help align people with the mission and recognize that through status and other means. The system is leveraging the 4-Drives to maximize the ”psychological triggers” (motivation) to achieve the desired results.

  2. The good thing is that you have a specific methodology that works with the 4-drive theory. I like how it lays out and how it incorporates some of the other tools such as compensation as part of the whole versus ignoring them like most design strategies did in the past. I like it.

    If you need some help leveraging some other triggers like consensus, scarcity, temporal discounting and the like – let me know! 🙂

    Good luck and let us know how it ultimately looks – within any confidentiality you may have. Look forward to updates.

  3. Wow! These are truly insightful and amazing ideas for Employee Recognition & Rewards to Motivate Teams. What’s even better, you can now make the most of the FREE 30-day trial and experience Peerfives like never before.

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