The Science Of Motivation

“Once something is a passion, the motivation is there.”

– Michael Schumacher

It never ceases to amaze me how quickly business owners will accept new technologies to help their businesses but will continue to hire and treat their employees in the same old-fashioned way. Look at how companies have jumped on the social media bandwagon. Everyone has a Facebook and LinkedIn company page. Several have Twitter accounts. Getting on the first search page and trying to figure out Google’s algorithms have become big business in themselves.

What have we done from a hiring standpoint? We’ve purchased Applicant Tracking Systems to filter candidates based on keywords, skills, experience, and even what schools they attended. I understand the reasoning, but has the use of these systems actually improved the hiring process? I would argue that they have certainly helped eliminate candidates, but not really done much to help find the right candidate. They just reduce the number of applicants.

So what’s my point here? Simply this. There are tools out there that can not only enhance the hiring process, but also help companies find the “right” candidate by providing objective data they can’t currently get from a resume, interview, or by reviewing a LinkedIn profile.

Let’s talk about one area that managers and HR professionals don’t think much about when hiring or trying to retain employees – motivation, the driving force behind why an employee does what he/she does. We ask questions during the interview process like, “Why do you want to work for this company?” A good question on the surface. The purpose of the question is to derive the motivation of the potential employee. What kind of answers do we get? “Well, you’re a forward thinking company and it’s just the kind of company I want to work for because I have a lot to offer and would fit in with your culture.” The answer comes from the person’s desire to land the job, not from their true motivation.

The same happens when we talk about motivating employees who are already with the company. How do most companies motivate their employees? They give them bonuses or raises once a year. They promote them, sometimes into jobs that they really are not suited for or don’t want. They have a party. They set up the office environment so it’s less businesslike and more college-dorm-like. But do these types of things motivate the employee to do a better job or to just stay with the company a year longer?

What if you could identify a person’s driving forces? What if you could identify what they are passionate about? Wouldn’t that help you ensure that the potential employee is right for the job you’re advertising? And wouldn’t that help you ensure that the job they are in is rewarding and exciting to them so that they truly want to do the best job that they can? Of course, it would!

So let’s talk a bit about driving forces. TTI Success Insights® is one company that identifies peoples’ driving forces through their motivators assessment. It identifies six motivators and 12 driving forces behind the motivators. The six motivators are Theoretical, Utilitarian, Aesthetic, Social, Individualistic, and Traditional. Each of the motivators has two associated driving forces as described below.

Theoretical is the desire to learn, but we learn for two different reasons. The driving forces associated with Theoretical are Instinctive, meaning we learn when we have to, and Intellectual, meaning we learn because we just want to experience new things.

The next motivator is Utilitarian, which is the desire for money and practical results. The driving forces associated with Utilitarian are Selfless, meaning completing tasks with the greater good in mind and expecting little personal return, and Resourceful, meaning we complete tasks but expect a return on our investment of time, talent, and energy.

The third motivator is Aesthetic, which deals with harmony and functionality. The driving forces associated with this motivator are Harmonious, meaning being driven by the experience, subjective points of view, and balance. On the other side is Objective, which is more functional and objective. It’s the difference between hanging a picture or a whiteboard in your office.

The fourth motivator is Social, which deals with people. The driving forces associated with this are Altruistic, which means helping people for the sake of helping people, and Intentional, which means helping people because you get something out of it.

The fifth motivator is Individualistic, which deals with individual power and support. The driving forces associated with this are Commanding, which describes people who are driven by recognition, power, and control, and Collaborative, which means driven by being in a supportive role looking for little recognition.

The last motivator is Traditional, which deals with how we approach things. A Receptive driving force refers to people who relish new ideas, approaches, and opportunities, whereas Structured refers to those who look more to proven and traditional approaches to problem-solving.

What could you do with this information? If you’re looking for an out of the box thinker, then perhaps someone who is a highly structured person might not be a good fit for that position. If you are promoting a team environment, then someone who is driven by recognition and power might give you pause. So from a hiring standpoint, this information could be vital in the selection of the best candidate.

What about current employees? It would be helpful to know what drives a person before moving that individual into a position where they would be most uncomfortable and would eventually leave. Or what about providing opportunities for employees that better match their passion? Wouldn’t that be a great retention idea?

The bottom line is this. There are scientific tools that provide objective data about people that should be part of every company’s hiring and retention processes. They will not only help you hire and retain better employees, but will also help to reduce your overall cost of hiring and rehiring. Why would you not be interested in that?


Ron Feher
Ron Feher
“Making your business better by making your people better,” captures Ron’s commitment to helping people. He possesses a breadth and depth of experience in a variety of disciplines including job benchmarking, staff development, manager mentoring, executive coaching, employee and management training. Ron has over 30 years of experience working in large, mid-size, and small companies in both technical and management roles with responsibilities covering management and technical training, strategic planning, tactical implementation, P&L, budgeting, vendor and relationship management, user design and testing, PMO, and process/project management of corporate-wide. He has worked for large, midsize, and small companies in a myriad of industries including telecommunications (AT&T), computer manufacturing (Gateway), mergers and acquisitions (RSM EquiCo), real estate, IT outsourcing and publishing (Spidell Publishing). He possesses an MBA in Technology Management, certifications in project management, international management and eMarketing. He is a Value Added Advisor with TTI Success Insights™, a certified Behavior and Motivation Analyst and certified Career Direct® consultant. Ron is currently serving as Irvine Chamber of Commerce Leads Group Chair, FUSION Leaders Chair and Board Member along with being actively involved with several task forces and committees. As an outreach to the community, Ron offers a Career Transition Workshop to churches and non-profits and was a founding member of the Career Coaching & Counseling Ministry at Saddleback Church. Ron’s favorite quote is “Even if you’re on the right track, you’ll still get run over if you just sit there.” – Will Rogers

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  1. When you take a look at motivation models, you can get a real good idea just how diverse people can really be. If you design sales compensation packages you are hit hard with how motivation equates to revenue.

    I think motivating someone, you need to inspire both to their hard logic rational side and their warm fuzzy emotional side. Often the models I see focus on either or, not both. And both is what makes motivation hard.