The Vail Centre (formerly the Vail Institute) is a great organization that is exploring the boundaries of how people lead and understanding what it takes to make a difference in the world. I am honored to be on their advisory board and working with them on some cool new projects.
FYI – I have a son and a daughter – not two daughters as it states in the article…I’m sure my son would appreciate my clarification on that.
Much of the work that I’ve done in the past has been on how the 4-Drive Model impacts employee motivation. The research that we did as well as the work that we implemented, focused mostly on large scale initiatives / programs that helped to satisfy these different drives (sales incentives, contests, recognition programs, award trips, performance management systems, etc..). Recently, I’ve been asked to develop some workshops, using the 4-Drive Model as the foundation, but that focus on helping managers better engage their employees – at a local level.
Putting these workshops together has been fascinating because it takes the 4-Drive Model to a much more specific place. Working one-on-one with an employee to help them feel more engaged at work. Even after 6 years of working with this model, I’ve identified a few new key pieces.
1. We all know that different people have different motivational profiles – but we’ve found that individuals motivational profiles can change very quickly (unlike someone’s personality profile – which changes little over time). Motivation, we found, is very context dependent. This is an important aspect when thinking about engagement.
2. Team environments within a larger organization are more important than any large scale initiative. Again, this is not ground breaking, but it does go to how team cultures are created or destroyed. One key piece that I’ve recognized, is that one bad-apple, can have an overly large negative effect on overall engagement of the team. In the past, I would have suggested working with that person to help develop them and coach them to improve – now I recommend that managers get rid of them as quickly as possible once they are recognized. It sounds harsh, but those individuals can poison the entire team to a point that makes it very hard to recover.
3. Most managers are too busy to focus on engagement. They have a hard enough time getting all of the work done that they are tasked to do – much less spend time thinking about how they can or should engage their employees. They often are so busy that they don’t stop to look around at what their employees are doing or saying. It is important to help them focus a portion of their energy on understanding what makes their team tick.
4. Most managers have not developed the skills and knowledge needed to effectively engage their employees. Some managers are naturally talented in this, like the sports phenom who at 18 possesses all skills necessary to be at the professional level. Most managers are on the JV team (if they even make the team). They need the coaching and time to develop their skills. Engagement is not hard, it just takes time and effort.
5. Probably the number one issue that managers have is that they don’t know what to focus on to increase engagement. Is it purely recognition, is it collaboration, is it tying to the larger purpose, is it compensation? This is where the 4-Drive Model really helps and can provide some guidance for managers and a way to understand their team.
Let me know your thoughts on this and any examples you’ve seen of good or poor management with regards to engagement.
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:
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:
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.
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.
A few weeks ago a number of factors all convened so that I spent 5 days playing 99 holes of golf (see here). It was fun, but I’m ok if I don’t hold a golf club in my hands for a little while.
Let’s preface by stating that I’m not an avid golfer nor am I a very good golfer. I’m average. I usually get out 3 to 4 times a year. I can talk the talk, I do some things well, and others not so well. One of the things that I was doing well during those five days was hitting my 9-iron.
And I was hitting it well.
On a pretty consistent basis I was hitting the ball between 140 and 170 yards with my 9-iron – and they were mostly straight (which is a big deal for me). And once* I put one out there about 185 yards (*it was downhill and the wind was behind me). Put this in perspective, according to Brent Kelly at About.com the average men’s 9-iron distance is between 95 and 135 yards. You would need to move up to a 5-iron to reach the average distance I was getting with my nine.
Of course I was hitting most of my other clubs poorly. I’d top my driver and it would bounce out 30 yards. I’d slice my 3-iron into the trees. I’d hit my five iron, but it would fade left and only go about 100 yards. I’d totally duff my 3-wood.
So what did I do?
I ended up just playing with my 9-iron and putter. Honestly. It didn’t matter if it was a par 3 140 yard hole or if it was a monster 540 par 5 – I’d pull out my 9-iron and shoot.
And you know what…I played better than I usually do. We used many of my shots in the scramble competition. I won my head to head match. Overall, I did pretty well using just my 9-iron.
Therein lies the problem…
I did pretty well for me – but I definitely wasn’t one of the top golfers playing. Sure I did better than I usually do, but I know that using my 9-iron on a long par 5 is not the optimum solution. Yes it improved my game – but I wasn’t going to be able to match the top golfers I was playing with if I only used two clubs.
I often see companies that use incentives like I use my 9-iron. It becomes the only club in their bag.
Therein lies the problem.
We find that we have some success with an incentive program/reward program/new initiative and we think, “hey, we’re doing pretty good here.” Then we use the same thing again and again – regardless of the issue we are trying to address. The problem is that using that approach, we will never be at the top of our game. We will never be able to fully motivate and engage our employees. We will get to the equivalent of a 540 yard hole, which requires a creative new approach – and we pull out the “9-iron incentive” instead because, hey, “I can hit it 170 yards.” But that probably won’t ever get you a par. And it certainly won’t get you an eagle.
There are a number of clubs that we have to use to help drive motivation. We need to engage people with challenging jobs, build great interpersonal connections, create a culture that people are proud of, make sure that people have opportunities to grow and excel. But these are all harder to master, take longer to build, and have a higher probability of a major slice or hook – so we too often just fall back on the old faithful 9-iron incentive plan.
The Driving Range
So I need to go out to the driving range and start working on my other clubs – maybe starting with the 8-iron and moving down the line**. That is the only way that I will ever improve my game and become a “good” golfer.
The only way a company will ever become really good at motivating its employees is to start developing their skills with other methods of engagement besides incentives.
Get out on the proverbial driving range and see what works for you. Add a little more job rotation. Change the goal setting system. Maybe some more team building. How about a more open and communicative culture. It takes practice. It takes time. There will be a few shots that go in the water…but in the end, its what is required to become a scratch golfer or a great company!
(**Of course, I think I’ll take a few more weeks off from golf to fully recover…I mean 99 holes in 5 days is a lot!)
Let us know what your favorite club is – leave a comment!
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.
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