An Acquire-Bond-Comprehend-Defend Model of MotivationIn the July-August issue of the Harvard Business Review, Nitin Nohria, a professor of business administration at Harvard Business School; Boris Groysberg, an associate professor of business administration at HBS; and Linda-Eling Lee, a research director at the Center for Research on Corporate Performance, (NGL) offer a tightly argued story of how to achieve high employee motivation.
Based on synthetic research Nohria and his colleague Paul Lawrence, an emeritus professor of organizational behavior at HBS, published in 2001, NGL posit that employees have four drives, each of which has a primary lever management can use to satisfy it. (Actually, for the Defend drive there are two primary levers.) Specifically, in the NGL model, employees have a drive to:
Acquire scarce goods (including intangibles, such as status) that bolster their sense of well-being.
Bond with individuals and groups.
Comprehend their world and how to view and respond to events.
Defend their selves, property, accomplishments, family and friends, and ideas and beliefs against external threats. Part of defending is promoting justice.
NGL look at indicators of motivation engagement in one's job, satisfaction at work, commitment to the organization, and intention to quit and determine that the biggest boost to motivation, relative to other companies, is achieved by addressing all four drives simultaneously, as opposed to doing so piecemeal.
NGL emphasize that managers must do what they can to satisfy employees' drives regardless of the fact that there are likely to be noticeable organizational limits on what is feasible. Employees give credit for genuine efforts to meet their needs/drives and, conversely, are demotivated by managers who fail to implement organizational processes and policies in a way that as far as possible meets employee needs.