4 Drivers Of Employee Motivation That All IT Leaders Must Know

The Four Drivers Of IT Staff Motivation
The Four Drivers Of IT Staff Motivation

We’ve talked about the fact that sometimes employee motivation can be a lot like performing brain surgery – you’ve got to be careful or you’ll end up doing a lot of damage. If an IT manager can realize that their staff (indeed all humans) have four fundamental emotional drivers that need to be met, then they are well on their way to maximizing employee satisfaction and maximizing productivity. So what are these four drivers that we all respond to?

  • The Drive To Acquire: More! More! More! As human beings we are all programmed to go out and get scarce goods (iPhone?) that make us feel better about ourselves. I think that we can all agree that we feel “happy” when we are successful and we feel “sad” when we fail. It’s not just physical things that we desire, but also experiences and improvements in our social status. This drive is relative – we are always comparing what we have to what those around us have. Oh, and it’s insatiable – we always want more, more, more!
  • The Drive To Bond: We all know about how we bond with our parents, siblings, etc. However, the human creature is amazing because we have the additional ability to extend who we bond with to associations, organizations, and even countries. This is a big one – when we are successful in bonding, then we fell loved. When we are not successful in bonding, then we fell loneliness. For your IT workers, bonding at work is a critical part of who they are. When staff feel proud to be part of an organization (Starbucks?) this can be a big boost to their motivation. It also explains why we get so depressed when we get fired or laid off – we feel that the organization has betrayed us.
  • The Drive To Comprehend: We are creatures that really want to understand the world in which we live. We are constantly using scientific, cultural, and even religious theories to try to make sense of it all. Our reason for doing this is that we want to be able to come up with reasonable responses to things that happen in our environment and to be able to determine what actions we should take next.
  • The Drive To Defend: You knew that this one had to be on the list! When external threats show up, we humans naturally defend ourselves, our family & friends, our property and things, etc. Remember that “flight or flight” thing? Fulfilling this drive leads employees to feel secure, failing to fulfill it leads to strong emotions like fear and resentment. This drive is one reason why mergers or buyouts can be so devastating for staff.

Now that you know what the four drivers of your staff are, the big question is how can you use these drivers to make sure that they are motivated to work hard. We’ll talk about that next time…

How many of these drivers do you see driving your own behaviors? Which one do you think is strongest in you? When managing a team, have you come up with ways to make sure that these drivers are being satisfied? Leave me a comment and let me know what you are thinking!