Four Drives | Behavior Matters!

Tag: Four Drives

4-Drive Summary

4-Drives 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.

Click through to link to read more…

Let me know what you think – leave a comment!

Remember – you can always follow me on Twitter @WhatMotivates

4 ways great leaders can impact employee motivation using the 4-Drive Model

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).

4. Experiment:

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.

Next steps:

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

Let us know what you think – leave a comment below!

A New Motivational Model Using the 4-Drives: Upcoming in 2011

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

Read More

More on the Drive to Challenge & Comprehend

Why we do the things we do

I was reading an the transcribed copy from a conversation between Ira Flatow and Dr. Paul Bloom on the NPR show Science Friday.  This show was titled, “Why we like the things we like” and I think it highlights some very interesting insights that we could all learn from.

The following excerpt is a great example of the Drive to Challenge and Comprehend.

FLATOW: Well, you led into a topic I wanted to ask you about, and that is the pleasure of just learning about things. It’s – you know, just knowing more. I mean, I find that extremely pleasurable, and I’m sure a lot of our listeners do, or else they wouldn’t be tuned to this program.

Read More

3 Tips to Increase the Drive to Challenge & Comprehend

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:

Read More

The 4-Drives and Motivation at Oak Ridge Hotel & Conference Center

A few weeks ago Susan and I spent the day interviewing 11 employees at Oak Ridge Hotel & Conference Center  in Chaska, MN (see Oak Ridge Part 1 here).  We had observed that Oak Ridge had “gotten the formula right on employee motivation” and wanted to probe more to find out how.  From our original findings, we highlighted five things that stood out: 1) leadership counts, 2) It is not about the money, 3) It is about the team, 4) Genuine recognition rejuvenates and 5) It is all about appreciating people.  I’m taking a different approach this time, looking at it from the 4-Drive Model and seeing how each of the drives showed up in the 11 interviews.

Read More

Delta Airlines Customer Service Failure: Motivation Observations

Airplane they wouldn't let me board

Recently I was in Dallas conducting focus groups.  After two long days of travel and facilitating, I raced back to DFW airport with the intent of trying to get on an earlier flight that I knew left at 3:15 PM.  Admittedly, this was a crapshoot and I would be cutting it close.  I was scheduled for the 5:55 PM flight, but the 3:15 PM flight would get me home in time to see my family before my two young children were in bed (which is pretty important to me).  As luck would have it, I was able to return the rental car, run to catch the bus to the terminal, get my ticket, and get through security and arrive at the gate at 2:55 PM – a good 20 minutes before the flight was scheduled to depart.  Here is an approximation of the exchange that occurred between me and the gate agent who we will call Mr. No.

Dallas, March 24th, 2:55 PM

Kurt standing at the counter said, “Hi.  How’s it going? I’m on the 5:55 flight but was hoping there might be a seat open that I could fly standby on this one.”

“Are you a gold or platinum member?” Mr. No replied.

“Not anymore.” said Kurt, wondering why that mattered, “Is there a seat available?”

“I can’t help you if you’re not a gold or platinum medallion member.”

“So there’s a seat but you can’t help me?” Kurt asks with some despondency.

“I can’t get you on now.  If you had been here ten minutes earlier I might have gotten you on.” said Mr. No.

“I don’t have any checked bags and will sit down right away.  I promise.” Kurt says hoping a little levity might help:

“I’m sorry.  I can’t have you go down there – they are getting ready to leave.”

“So you won’t help me? There is 20 minutes before the flight leaves!”

“You’ll just have to take your original flight.”

“I’ll pay.  What would it cost to change?”  Kurt said

“$50.  But I can’t do that now.” Mr. No says right before turning his back on me and checking some paper coming out of the printer.

“Ok?”  Kurt said, while pulling out his i-phone to start Twittering about this horrible experience with Delta.

Motivation Observation

It appeared to me that the agent was concerned about the on-time status of the flight, the extra work it would cause to put me on the flight, and the fact that I wasn’t a premium status customer more than he was concerned about responding to my needs.   I could go on and on about the motivation  (or lack thereof) of the gate agent for Delta, but I do not know that agent, or the procedural rules or incentives that Delta employs to drive motivation – so any insight would be conjecture.

What interests me was my response to this situation and the motivation that drove that response.  My first inclination having been denied appropriate customer service was not to ask for a manager or send an e-mail to Delta’s customer service – it was to get on Twitter and to tell over 700 people about my “horrible” experience.  I ended up tweeting about this over 15 times in the next 3 hours either directly about the experience or responding to other people’s tweets about this.  Here are my first 4 tweets (typos and all):

“Delta airlines won’t let me board plane on standby because it leaves in 20 minutes – horrible cust service!”

“I understand why airlines get such a bad rap – counter agent too concerned about on time deptarture and not cust service”

“Delta #fail here is plane that I can’t board

“Flight leaves at 3:15 I was here at 2:52 – agent couldn’t accomodate me ( not gold or platinum) even if I paid!

In terms of the four drives, which drives were activated?  Clearly, my Defend drive was kicked into high gear.  The fact that I felt that my goals were being hindered by a Delta kicked that Defense Drive into overdrive!  I felt I needed to get payback and the idea of Twittering about this provided a means of vindication.  I would make Delta pay by announcing how horrible they were to the world.  Hundreds of people would hear me venting in real time and who knows, it could be passed on to hundreds or thousands more through retweeting.

Therein lies a potential second drive – the drive to Acquire.  While this sounds contrary since I wasn’t going to the manager or to customer service to ask for money or a free ticket, what I was doing was looking for recognition.  Recognition from others on how I had been wronged.  I wanted the world to know about what I was going through and to recognize me for that fact.  There was a challenge to this as well.  Could I write a tweet that was compelling enough to get retweeted and forwarded on – this was a challenge.  How many people could this vent be exposed to? Thus a third drive, the Challenge Drive, was also engaged.

A fourth drive was also activated – the drive to Bond.  By tweeting about this I was engaging in a conversation with other people about my experience.  I was commensurating with others about my experience and theirs.  We were sharing stories and experiences and building relationships.  By tweeting, I had a group of individuals whom I could talk to about this experience and feel a bond with them.  It was a way of venting without having to do it in person to the people in the airport (who would probably thought me a demented maniac).

When all four drives are activated, it is a very powerful motivator.  I did not hesitate in writing my tweets.  I still feel that it was a good thing to do.  While the Defense drive was the main motivator, the other drives played a significant part in my overall motivation.  This is a very real insight for me – how all four drives together are much more powerful than any one alone.

Moving On

I would love to hear about any customer service failures that you’ve experienced and see if you see how the four drives impacted your response (or not).  Please add a comment and join the discussion.

What’s Going to Motivate You in 2010?

Let us know what you think will be your biggest motivator in 2010?

For me I think it will be the Drive to Achieve. We’ve been working at this motivation thing at The Lantern Group for a number of years but I have a sense that this needs to be the big break out year. I am motivated to see the ideas, the concepts, the results raised up to that next level.

What about you – what’s your motivation for 2010?

The Drive To Bond and How We Screw It Up

We all have a drive to bond.  The desire to form meaningful, positive relationships with those around us.  Research shows that this drive is one of the strongest motivators that we have as humans (see Baumeister & Leary, 1995; Lawrence and Nohria, 2002).  Think of the impact that this strong human drive could have on business performance if harnessed?  Think of the extra effort that you exert for your friends when they are in need – now apply that extra effort to a business.

The problem is that businesses typically see bonding only as something done in a team building session for an afternoon at the National Sales Meeting.  Or worse, that bonding is idle chit-chat that steals company time and resources.  How many organizations have you seen with policies regarding time spent away from the desk, on the internet, or using social media at work?  Think about those companies that have strict policies regarding office fraternizing or dating.   Or think of the norms that have been established about not mingling with your employees or being their friends after work.  All of this is wrong!

Now I understand that there are reasons for these policies (legal issues, productivity lost, sandbaggers, etc.).  The fact is, these policies inhibit bonding and socializing at work.  The fact is, that bonding can be used to help motivate and inspire your workforce to higher productivity, more responsibility, and greater results.  The issue is that companies need to pro-actively work on this – and that’s not easy.

There are a number of ways to foster increased bonding.  Th first is to remove the roadblocks that inhibit socialization.  Examine your policies and procedures to see if they can be eliminated or changed to help people get to know one another without serious loss of productivity.  Then focus on creating a culture that encourages bonding and team work.  Create opportunities for people to meet and discuss.  Foster conversations between groups and levels within the organization.  Identify social media tools to help people get to know one another on a more personal basis.

Here are a just a couple of ideas:

  • Create a breakfast/lunch topics series – have people give a short presentation on a topic of their interest
  • Start a job sharing/learning forum – one of the best ways to form a relationship at work is to help people understand what everyone does and how they do it
  • Start each meeting with fast facts – a quick go around about something each person has recently done or is planning on doing

Give us some ideas of yours – we’ll not only post them here, but also on Twitter!

Powered by WordPress & Theme by Anders Norén

Behavior Matters!