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.
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!
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!
In order to maximize motivation leaders need to provide an opportunity for employees to satisfy the four drives: Acquire & Achieve, to Bond & Belong, to be Challenged & Comprehend, and to Define & Defend. Leader’s can begin to influence and start to fulfill each of these drives by using some of the systems and processes they already have in place. Alterations and enhancements to those systems and processes can help the organization be one in which employees can satisfy their drives and become highly motivated!
We attempt to map the connection between each of the four drives and the different organizational systems/processes that impact them.
Drive A: Achieve & Acquire
This drive is primarily satisfied through a company’s Reward System. This drive is met when companies have a total reward system that: highly differentiates top performers from average performers and average performers from poor performers; clearly ties rewards to performance; recognition is given for outstanding performance; pay is above competitive benchmarks in the city/industry; and top employees are promoted from within.
Drive B: Bond & Belong
This drive is mostly met through an Organizations Culture. Organizations who’s culture is one that: embraces teamwork; encourages the development of friendships and bonding; one in which employees can depend on their peers to help them; a culture that values collaboration; a culture that celebrates and shares; and a culture that is focused on the “employee first” are crucial to this drive being met.
Drive C: Challenge & Comprehend
This drive is fulfilled primarily through Job and Organizational Structure. Organizations need to ensure that the various job roles within the company provide employees with stimulation that challenges them or allows them to grow. Job roles that satisfy this drive should: be seen as important in the organization; jobs should provide personal meaning and fulfillment; roles should engender a feeling of contribution to the organization; organizational structures that provide growth opportunities within the company; learning offerings (training, seminars, etc) that provide employees with new skills and knowledge, job sharing/rotational opportunities that can provide new challenges are the key to fulfilling this particular drive.
Drive D: Define & Defend
This drive is met mostly through an employee feeling alignment and connection to the organization. This can be done through a company’s Vision/Reputation and their Performance Management System. Organizations that have a strong vision or positive reputation in the marketplace can help create that alignment with employees. The company should be perceived to be: fair; providing a valued service or good; ethical; and good stewards. Organization’ performance management systems can also help through giving insight into the company’s vision. Performance management system should be one that is: open and transparent; perceived to be fair; provides direction; and that is trusted by employees.
What great leaders need to do:
Rightfully or not, many employees look to the company to provide them their motivation for work. While many of these motivations are inherently in a company, good leaders know that they have to work at it constantly to ensure that they are satisfying all four drives.
1. Focus on all 4 Drives:
It is important to understand that all the good work that a company or leader does in these four areas can be ruined if one of the four drives is lacking. Research shows that weakness on fulfilling one of the 4-Drives “castes a negative halo” on how the company or leader performs on all the other 3 drives. It is important then for a leader to ensure that they are identifying and addressing any issues that they see in any of the four drive areas.
2. Individualize motivation:
It is also important to know that individual employees each have a unique 4-Drive Motivational profile. In other words, some employees will respond or require greater satisfaction of the A drive, while others will focus in on the C drive (or B or D). Each employee will perceive how the company or leader is performing on these differently. Good leaders are one’s who understand those differences and can focus specific employees on the satisfiers of their specific needs.
3. Communicate effectively:
Leaders need to be able to effectively communicate how their systems, policies and structure align with the four drives. In other words, they need to be able to explain to map out the connections between what the company is doing or providing and how that would satisfy one or more of the drives. For instance, a leader could discuss the reason that they are sponsoring a community service event is not only to help the community (drive D) but also to provide an opportunity for employees to get to know each other and their families (drive B) and to give them a chance to learn a new skill (drive C).
Good leaders need to constantly look for ways of enhancing each of the four drives. This is an ongoing commitment that requires leaders to be focused on looking for different ways in which they can provide the opportunities for employees to satisfy their needs. They should implement new structures and processes and see how they work.
We can help you or your company use the 4-drives to increase motivation. We offer assessment, consulting and workshops on this. You can contact us at 612-396-6392 or email@example.com
Let us know what you think – leave a comment below!
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.
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.
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