four drives theory model

The Four Drive Model and Its Effect at Workplace

The Four Drive model presents human aspirations as a set of fundamental needs. The theory was introduced in the 2002 book titled Driven. These dynamic needs were acquired over time from human evolutionary past and became a part of the mental stock meant to serve as an advantage in the epochs to come.

The derived drives are elemental and cannot be broken down into smaller elements, yet provide a comprehensive understanding of what is behind human motivation. These complete drives are: acquire, bond, learn, and defend. Each of them is characterized by features influencing communication with other humans, in the workplace included.

Acquire

Acquire is the drive to gain material possessions, achieve a position, or be awarded a status. On one side, it can lead to increased performance, but on the other, lead to detrimental competition. The drive to acquire combines both basic and complex wants varying from essentials for survival to accomplishments and power. Understanding this drive and providing necessary conditions to fulfill the “acquisition” by means of job performance should be at the core of creating any satisfying job. To balance out unhealthy competition you can use another drive — the drive to bond.

Bond

The drive to bond determines the need to find and engage in mutual relationships with others. Extensive research has revealed that we are inclined to bond with other individuals similar in worldview and demographics. People who have a neck for establishing relationships soon can grow to include groups in the workplace. Bonds are, generally, healthy and result in workers supporting each other. The drive to bond is aimed towards other people, while the drive to learn is more personal, directed at work activities for the most part.

Learn

Workplace environments that encourage curiosity and provide means for exploration to improve understanding are perfect for satisfying the drive to learn. This particular drive is also behind the urge to understand one’s role in the organization and what that role is meant to contribute to the greater goal. The satisfaction workers get from taking up challenges at the workplace is a perfect representation of the drive to learn effect. It also works wonders coupled with the drive to bond. The effects of the first three drives we have gone over are all desirable in the workplace. However, the last one — the drive to defend — you would not want triggered in the work environment.

Defend

Contrary to the active drives to acquire, bond, and learn which people seek to fulfill, the drive to defend is subtle and becomes active only when triggered by a threat. The stimulation to defend can be a result of a threat to the organization, the group, or the individual. In this scenario, it is best for the organization to work out an environment that minimizes or eliminates the source of these threats. With misguided and unintentional triggers handled, the drive to defend allows workers to effectively respond to genuine threats.

The Four Drive model presents human aspiration to acquire, bond, learn, and defend as elemental psychologically engraved needs, either of the drives can be expressed at a different level compared to others. The influence of any given drives varies over time too. A consistent predominant manifestation of one of the drive can be detrimental for organizational as well as personal outcomes. Once a person gets captivated by, for instance, the drive to acquire it can lead to unhealthy competition and greed. The absorption with the drive to defends leads to a person becoming socially distanced or even paranoid. The key aspect of the theory revolves around balancing out all four drives and using them to regulate one another. The same objective should be pursued when structuring a job position and creating a workplace environment.

It is completely fine to evaluate the perception of the workplace environment based on these Four Drives. If that is your intention, you will find the four fundamental drives job satisfaction survey below. The content of the survey is meant to point managers to the potential areas of interest and help formulate the right questions to get more accurate results.

The Drive to Acquire and Achieve

  • Does your organization offer monetary rewards for exceptional performance?
  • Is your salary competitive?
  • Are your performance evaluation criteria defined clearly?
  • Does your organization clearly define the need for high performance?
  • Is your performance getting the recognition it deserves?
  • How happy are you with the payment for your work?

The Drive to Bond

  • Does your organization encourage employees to support each other?
  • How does your organization recognize teamwork efforts or collaborations?
  • Does your company encourage best practices and knowledge sharing?
  • Is friendship among employees supported by your organization?
  • Do you see yourself as an indispensable part of the team?
  • Would you define your management as people-oriented?
  • Would you agree with the statement that your management cares for you on a personal level?

The Drive to Learn and Comprehend

  • Does your job give you the opportunity to do work that interests you?
  • Is there an opportunity to learn new things at your job?
  • Do you think the work that you do accomplishes something meaningful for your organization?
  • Would you consider your assignments to be challenging?
  • Is there a variety of the assignments you are getting at work?
  • Is personal development and growth supported at your organization?
  • Are you acquiring new skills or knowledge at work?

The Drive to Defend

  • Does your organization have a transparent performance rating system?
  • Do you work in a non-intimidating and welcoming environment?
  • Is your organization’s performance rating system fair?
  • Does your manager play favorites or everyone is treated fairly?
  • Do you personally trust organization’s approach to performance rating?
  • Does everyone, including yourself, have the right to speak up at your organization?