Employee Motivation Written By Nitin Nohria Management Essay

The title of this article is Employee Motivation written by Nitin Nohria, Boris Groysberg, and Linda-Eling Lee. It is published in Harvard Business Review. Generally, this article discuss about the factors which helps to enhance employees’ motivation. In this article, the authors strongly believe that where companies must delight employees with a good benefit and suitable motivation in order to gain their loyalty and work hard for a company. The writers explore that employees is a largest asset for a company, they explain their point of view in the aspects of the importance of employees motivation and how to fulfill the four drives such as the drive to acquire, the drive to bond, the drive to comprehend and the drive to defend that to motivate employees, increase employees loyalty and gain a good wealth at the future.


At one time, employees were considered as just another input of production of goods and services. Managers have the most challenging task of getting the best work out of their employees. Through major studies and research, it was found that employees are not entirely motivated by money alone but there are four fundamental drives that underlie motivation. The four basic motivations can be categorised as the drive to acquire, the drive to bond, the drive to comprehend and the drive to defend.

Based on several studies, it was found that those organisations that understood and implemented the four drives were more successful than others which did not. Basically, the employees all have the desire to acquire things for their well-being and social status. The drive to acquire is inherent in every one of us. This drive can be satisfied by an organisation reward system which reward employees based on their good performance. Also, to be able to maintain employment of current employees with a higher pay than that offered by its competitors.

The drive to bond involves the formation of a strong work culture among its employees, so that they can identify themselves belonging to an organisation. Studies have shown that such a bond boost motivation enormously as workers do feel proud of the group they belong to. It is important to solidify that mutual reliance, friendship as well as teamwork and the sharing of practices among coworkers.

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Furthermore, the motivation to comprehend is actually the desire for a worker to make a meaningful contribution in his workplace. In order for an employee to make sense of his working environment, it is essential that his job is meaningful, interesting and challenging. The solution is for the organisation to come up with better job designs that are distinct and interesting.

Subsequently, the drive to defend is to instill within the organisation, the feelings of security and confidence among its employees. It is natural for one to defend oneself against external threats. So, this drive to defend is very important as it allows one to express freely his ideas and opinions in the workplace without fear. The organisation must increase its transparency in all processes, emphasizing on fairness and in so doing, build trust among its employees.

The fulfillment of all the four employees’ basic emotional motivation is essential for any organisation to be successful in the cultivation of motivation. It is the manager’s responsibility to recognise and improvise on the aspects of the above four basic drives as employees expect their managers to do their best to address their needs.


We strongly agree on the general problems and concepts discussed in this article. This is because we found that employees’ motivation is able to change employees’ attitude towards the company. However, nowadays it is found that there is a very high percentage of employees who are not satisfied with their job. This causes them not to perform their best for the company. In this article, the authors stated the four drives to fulfill employees’ needs which are the drive to acquire, the drive to bond, the drive to comprehend and the drive to defend. Although research show that drive to bond has the greatest effect for employee to commit themselves, overall employees motivational score soar when the four motivations are applied simultaneously.

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Based on this article, the part where we found it most convincing is where it discusses about the drive to bond. It enables us to understand the importance of relationships between employees and manager. In an organization, it is better for the manager to treat all his employees as friend sometimes. This allows the employees to be more open-minded and participate in all the projects. So, by having a stronger relationship, communication between individuals in a company is more efficient and thus, work can be done more effectively.

The evidence of supporting this argument is the part where the author talk about the reward system. Based on the article, the drive to acquire is the most easy to satisfy by an organization’s reward system. Organization separate good and poor performance employees, ties rewards to performance, this will give the best employee opportunities for advancement. As for the weak employees, they will try to improve themselves by showing a better performance in their work. Sonoco, a manufacturer of packaging for industrial and consumers goods, was establishing very clears between performance and rewards and set a high business performance targets. In 1995, Sonoco instituted pay for performance system based on employees individual and group metrics. From a regularly administered internal survey, it shows that employee satisfaction and engagement are improved.

We think the issues discussed are not well-presented. This is because the authors have provided very little information on their research and survey on employees’ motivation score. They also did not mention about the criteria and weightage where marks are given. Formula or ways to calculate the percentile of employees’ motivation are not provided or mentioned in the article. Therefore, we are not sure how the survey was carried out and how they classify employees into ‘motivated’ or ‘not motivated’ groups. Furthermore, this article is not well-research as there are only two researches presented in the articles to support their findings. We found that this is insufficient to convince us that the four drives (drives to acquire, bond, comprehend and defend) have an important co relationship with employees’ motivation.

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The text structure of the article is quite confusing and messy. This is because each of the drive’s primary level and actions to be taken are explained separately from the drive. The authors have explained the definition of each drive first then only further on to the primary level. Since each motivations has its particular primary level and it is all related, authors can organize the article by explaining the drive with its own primary level and actions together instead of separating them. Besides that, the language used in this article is simple. The structures of the sentences are well constructed and it is clear. Thus, it is easy to understand even for non-professionals.


Generally, this is a good article. This article states the needs of an employee and this helps us to understand more about an employee attitude at work, requirement and emotion. Through understanding employees’ needs, managers are able to predict and fulfill the requirements and needs of employees so that they are satisfied with the working system, policy and environment. They feel motivated and comfortable thus, improving their morale. This is very important because employees’ performance directly affect a company’s progress, gain or loss.

Some strategies on how to satisfy employees’ emotional needs are discussed in the articles. For example, companies may launch a reward system, do some improvement on the culture, management system or make some changes on design of jobs. By doing this, employee motivations scores can be increases and thus, improve the productivity of a company.

We would like to recommend this article to all the managers and those who work in the human resource department because as a manager or a member from human resource department, it is their responsibility to study and understand what their employees think about their work. Later on, they should make some changes or adjustment to create a best working place, system and culture to ensure employees’ best performance. By doing this, some unnecessary misunderstanding and unsatisfied among employees can be avoid too.

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