Team | Behavior Matters! - Part 2

Tag: Team

Why I Hate Training Wheels

Riding a bike

My 4-year old son just got his bike a few weeks ago.  He is in heaven.  Ask him what his favorite thing in the world to do is, and he will tell you, “Ride my bike!”  He wants to ride it everywhere…which is fantastic. He is definitely motivated!

I have one problem…he won’t ride it without training wheels.

We tried.  The first four days I was out with him every day, running up and down the sidewalk, holding on to the bike as he peddled.  But he was too scared.  He would stop peddling anytime the bike tilted.  He would always look back to make sure I was there (which caused him to turn the wheel and tilt the bike to one side and then stop peddling).  He would stop and say he wanted to go slower.

And the problem was he was actually doing a good job riding on his own.  He was able to go a fair way with me just running beside him and not supporting the bike.  I would let go and he would be riding just fine.

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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:

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3 tips to increase the Drive to Bond & Belong

The 4-Drive Model of Employee Motivation’s second drive is the drive to Bond & Belong.  The drive is defined by our innate desire to form “close, positive relationships” with people around us.  The image of the lone wolf going it alone or the inventor holed up in his workshop are atypical – most people want to bond with others and feel they belong to a group.  Here are three tips to increase the B Drive: 

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4-Drives: A simple story about how one manager got motivation right!

This was our most viewed slideshare presentation with over 14,000 views – I’ve now turned it into a 4-minute youtube video….with music and everything.  Hope you enjoy and please forward on to anyone you think would benefit from watching.

How to Get Employee Motivation Right!

Oak Ridge Hotel and Conference Center get motivation – it isn’t about a single program or special one-day events. . . it is about creating a culture that engages and motivates.

Here is a short video that highlights some of what we found out when we talked with them and asked them. . . “What Motivates You?”

Culture, engage, motivate

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.

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When you get motivation right – Oak Ridge Hotel & Conference Center (part 1)

Susan and I just had the wonderful pleasure of spending a day interviewing 11 people at Oak Ridge Hotel & Conference Center to try to uncover their secret – because they have gotten the formula right on employee motivation.  Anyone who has ever stepped into their facility outside of Minneapolis can attest to the customer service mentality that every employee exhibits – from the front desk, to housekeeping, to the chefs, groundskeepers, and even in accounting.  There is a definite difference in how the majority of these employees “show up” at their job everyday and how they view and take care of their “guests”.  They are truly a company that is doing something right.  While we haven’t had time to fully analyze the interviews (we will in the upcoming weeks), there are a few things that I can say definitively:

1. Leadership counts – the one overriding conclusion that hit us in the face was how important leadership is in this process – they need to be present, genuine, and focused on the right things.

2. Its not about the money – I was a little surprise to hear (actually to NOT hear) about bonus plans or contests or other recognition that had a big dollar value.  It wasn’t important.  It didn’t drive their day-to-day activities or play an integral part in their motivation.

3.  It is about the team – teamwork was an overriding theme in all of the interviews that we did.  It wasn’t ever about “my job” but instead about serving the customer.  If that means that top managers have to change sheets, then that is what happens.

4.  Genuine recognition rejuvenates – real, honest recognition that is done on a regular basis, in public, helps reinvigorate and help drive the culture.  Knowing that their work is important and recognized keeps people engaged.

5.  Its about people – employees were seen as people first.  Management spent time getting to know them, getting to understand who they were, spending time finding out about their families and interests.  They care and it shows.

Over the next few weeks we will let you know more about our findings and get in depth with some analysis.  Oak Ridge Hotel & Conference Center has been kind enough to give us access to their people and allow us to share our insights with you.  There is something to learn here if you are interested in creating a workforce that is motivated and engaged. Stay tuned!



Motivating a team

Meeting podium and stage

I had an e-mail on Monday from a teacher who wanted to know how to motivate his speech team. While this is out of the realm of things we typically work on, it intrigued me. Below is my response:

“I have been thinking about your question and how you could use some motivational techniques with your speech team. I definitely believe that motivation is something that can be used with high school students in a number of situations such as the classroom, sports, and extracurricular activities such as debate and speech.

Some of the key things that I think would help in motivating the students on your speech team include:

1. Understand that each individual will have a different motivational profile. In other words, individually they are going to be more motivated by different things. For some, it is going to be the challenge of being in a competition or improving themselves (i.e. the Challenge Drive). For others it might be the prestige and recognition that would go along with winning a contest (i.e., the Acquire Drive). And for others it could be the comradery they have from being on the team and furthering those relationships (i.e., the Bond Drive). For others it might be that they don’t want to lose or be bested by another team (i.e., the Defend Drive). That being said, we are currently working on a tool to help people better understand their motivational profile in terms of the 4-drives. The tool is not currently completed (I can send it to you when it is), but in the mean time you can ask questions of your team to try to figure out which of the 4-drives (Acquire, Bond, Challenge/Comprehend, or Defend) is the greatest motivator for them.

I would use open ended questions such as “Tell me what you think it would be like to win XX contest?” “What will make you the proudest about winning?” “What are you looking forward to most after winning the prize?” “What are you going to focus on to motivate you to practice – even when you don’t want to?” “If you put one or two words up on your mirror to motivate you every day, what would those words be?” Use the responses from these to try to figure what drives each students motivation.

2. Customize how you talk to each individual to leverage their individual drives. For instance, if someone is motivated by the prestige of winning, talk about how they are recognized, what type of trophies they earn, or how proud their parents/peers/teachers will be. If the individual is driven by the challenge, talk to them about how they are learning and growing by working through this, how they can demonstrate their knowledge by how well they do, and how they will be able to use their newly acquired skill set in the future.

3. Have the students set individual goals for what they want to accomplish. Have them write these down and share them with the team. The goals should be stretch goals and be as specific as possible. Remind them of their individual goals when you talk with them.

4. Have a team goal that is a stretch for them. Have them think about what it would mean to achieve this goal and what they need to do individually to help the team achieve it. Have them make a verbal commitment to doing that. Set key milestones to achieving this goal (steps to the final goal with specific timeline for achieving them) and celebrate when the team achieves them.

5. Have them write down the two or three motivational words that will keep them inspired throughout the process and put them in a prominent place where they will see them every day.

6. If possible, have them pick a topic that aligns with their motivation and interest. Or have them frame the speech with that in mind. If you can tap into their intrinsic motivation around a topic or idea, then you will need less of other types of motivation to keep them going.

These are some simple ideas, but hopefully they might spark an idea or two for you. I would also invite you to join our newsletter mailing list – these come out quarterly and provide some insight into motivation that you might find useful. You can sign up by going out to and clicking the newsletter icon.

Good luck and let me know if any of this was helpful!”


5 Ways to Motivate Your Team

Questions on motivation? Send them here.

In today’s world it can be hard to motivate not only ourselves but also our teams.

Check out today’s Top 5 Tips for Motivating Your Team:

Manager Motivation Tips

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Four Drive Model: New Theory on Employee Motivation

The Four Drive Model of Employee Motivation was presented by Lawrence and Nohria in 2002. The model is a holistic way of looking at employee motivation beyond the typical “pay” model that is prevalent in the corporate world today. I will not go into detail regarding the model here, but just give  an overview and how this model presents a new way of thinking for organizational leaders (see here for how leader’s can impact performance using it).

The Four Drive theory is based on research that shows four underlying drives – the drive to Acquire & Achieve, to Bond & Belong, to be Challenged & Comprehend and to Define & Defend.

Each of these drives are important if we are to understand employee motivation. While companies typically focus on the drive to Acquire & Achieve (i.e., base pay, incentives, etc…), the other three drives play an integral part in  fully motivating employees. Thus, the new theory provides a model for employers to look at when they are trying to find ways to increase employee engagement and motivation.

For instance, companies often pay lip service to team building as they don’t see how it really impacts performance. The Four Drive model shows that team building relates directly to the drive to Bond & Belong – which in turn can influence an employees motivation. Thus conducting a team building session should no longer be just about having fun for a few hours, it should help a company’s employees positively build and enhance the bonds they have with their co-workers.

The drive to be Challenged & Comprehend  highlights the fact that we perform better when we are not bored or “not challenged” and learning on the job.  Instead of trying to automate and simplify all work, leaders should look at how they can enhance or create challenges for employees and provide them opportunities to learn and grow.  With this in mind, organizations must look at how they are structuring their jobs, their projects, their incentives.

Organizations do not typically think of the drive to Define & Defend when they are thinking about motivation. The Four Drive model indicates that a company’s reputation, its moral bearing, the culture and what it does can all be significant factors in how motivated employees are. Think of the different motivation an employee would have working for a pharmaceutical company that is providing life saving medicines for people or a one that is out to maximize shareholder returns. Which do you think would have the more motivated workforce?

Note: Alright, a theory that is almost seven years old really isn’t new, but theories moving from academics into the real world often require a much longer time to be accepted – so I’d give this a good grade! For more information, please go to or


We have done much work on increasing our understanding of the 4-Drive Model of Employee Motivation over the past year.  We are in the final stages of development for a 4-Drive Assessment that will help people understand how the four drives influence their individual motivation.  Another area of research for us was to look at how managers can use the 4-Drive Model to create programs, put in place systems, and change their behavior to increase their employee’s motivation.  All of this work has helped solidify our understanding of the 4-Drive Model and reconfirmed our belief that this is a very powerful employee motivation model.  We now understand that using this as an underlying architecture for creating a motivational workplace can be very beneficial for organizations.

Our work in this area has also shown that there are some weaknesses to the model.  For instance, “Purpose” isn’t really addressed in the model.  Purpose has been shown to be a key motivator in individuals – highlighted in Pink’s recent work but dating back to research done by Deci, Eisenberger, Locke, Lathum and most importantly Leider.  In the 4-Drive Model we have been forced to put passion under the Define & Defend Drive – but that stretches the current definition for that drive.  We are currently working on a way to integrate Purpose into the 4-Drive Model.

All in all, we still believe that the 4-Drive Model is one of the strongest and most robust models to help understand employee motivation and engagement.  We are working on developing more actionable tools and programs so that managers can both understand the model and be able to use it to increase their employee’s motivation.  It is with great anticipation that we are looking forward to the next year and taking this to the next level.


Please see Rethinking the 4-Drive Model of Employee Motivation for further thoughts on this model and how our thinking has led to new ideas.  Here are some other links to blogs we’ve written about the 4-drives Impact on Leaders here, and other four-drive info here, here, here, here and here.


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