It’s Business… And It Better Be Personal

And It Better Be Personal
michelle pokorny

Times are changing. If you are reading this, you probably sense it.

And business has to change, we need to “Switch and Shift.” To effectively lead, engage and create loyalty we have to connect with employees as… people. Knowing how and where to start, however, can seem daunting for an organization.

In Shawn Murphy’s recent blog post, I mentioned findings from a study conducted by Maritz Motivation Solutions to help companies better understand employees. We found valuable insights on what is meaningful and motivating to employees.

A key finding: Only 45.3% of employees felt they were meaningfully rewarded and recognized for their work performance. The study identified a strong linkage between this satisfaction with reward and recognition, and overall engagement. In fact, employees are five to six times more engaged when satisfied.

So, what leads to satisfaction?

Through a variety of goal, attitude, preferential and engagement questions, we were able to better understand employees – and to identify four personal, primary “value segments”:

  • Altruists (17%)
  • Drivers (24%)
  • Pioneers (26%)
  • Stabilizers (33%)

Organizations and leaders must become better equipped to communicate with, motivate, reward and recognize these diverse, valuable employees more effectively.

What is engaging, motivating and rewarding to people is personal.

Understanding values can improve satisfaction through more effective communication, more meaningful reward and recognition. Here’s a snapshot of employee values in the workforce today:

Drivers – People-managers and those self-identified as C-suite or executive are far more likely to be “Drivers”, holding achievement and power as primary values. Drivers tend to be focused on self-enhancement, are motivated by competition and more likely rewarded by receiving high profile projects and status than others.

Drivers are important in an organization in striving toward success. It gets tricky when they lead others with different reward motivators.

Altruists – Altruists hold universalism and benevolence as primary values. They look at life and work differently than many of their co-workers. Altruists are motivated and rewarded by personal time, cultural experiences and opportunities to ‘pay it forward’.   They prefer social, community environments in which to collaborate, contribute and learn. They are engaged by transparent, sincere and preferably face-to-face communications. Altruists are driven to make a difference.

Stabilizers – The largest segment of employees, Stabilizers hold tradition, security and even conformity as primary values. Where a highly competitive Driver is motivated by a challenge, Stabilizers want a sense of safety and security. Where Drivers are competitive, status-seeking missiles, Stabilizers prefer group or team reward and recognition so that relationships aren’t jeopardized. They can act like glue to an organization, fostering relationships and upholding cultural tradition.

Stabilizers are less likely to lead and more comfortable performing predictable jobs and roles, an important aspect of a balanced workforce and organization.

Pioneers – These are the seekers of stimulation and self-direction – their primary values. They enjoy freedom, flexibility, taking risks, variety and choice. They are highly driven and rewarded by learning and getting to try new things.

Pioneers want to contribute and to be included. Pioneers are a necessary part of the tribe for driving innovation and championing change, which every organization needs to thrive.

Ultimately, our values are a primary filter for what we care about, what we attend to, what motivates us – even on the job. Engagement programs often appeal to a key stakeholder or program owner, rather than the broader employee audience. This one-size-fits-all approach doesn’t fit most.

What is engaging, motivating and rewarding to people is personal.

Organizations and leaders must become better equipped to communicate with, motivate, reward and recognize these diverse, valuable employees more effectively.

When asked to assess the primary values of their organization, the largest percentage of employees (51%) viewed their organization as a Driver organization. Employee engagement was slightly higher when the employees’ value segment and that of the company was the same.

However, the most engaged employees worked for either an Altruist or Pioneer company – even if they did not hold the same personal values. More evidence of the shift…people want to work for companies with a higher purpose, that foster collaboration, contribution and innovation.

For more details on the study, value segments and their reward, recognition and communication preferences, please visit


Art by: Gwendolaine

Michelle Pokorny is Solution Vice President – Employee Engagement and Recognition for Maritz Motivation Solutions. She works to bring clients the latest insights, tools and resources necessary to create impactful employee recognition experiences. Michelle is a CRP (Certified Recognition Professional), is IMA (Incentive Marketing Association) certified in incentive design and holds a Master of Science in Marketing from Texas A&M University. She is also active in The Maritz Institute, which serves as a bridge between the human sciences and Maritz’ solutions, helping to create better business for clients and better lives for the people they touch.

  • Michelle,

    I so love going to my own site (which is set as my home page) to learn something new – as I certainly did today with this post! What a treat. There are many psychological-emotional frameworks for understanding ourselves and others out there, so this is how I judge each I come across: How useful is it? Yours, as explained above, is something I can walk away with and use right now, today. For that I say, Thank you! Brava!!

    At my core, I’m an Altruist with a strong Pioneer bent. When I was younger – and less secure with myself as a person – I had a very strong Driver instinct. Now that I am more comfortable in my own skin, I don’t feel any need to beat my own chest or hog the limelight. It’s funny. Of course, as one who works with C-level leaders, board members, and company founders, I’m immersed in the world of Drivers. Drivers can get a lot accomplished for an organization: their contribution is essential. Still, I sometimes can’t help but think: how many awards will be enough? How many Ferraris will fill that hole within you?

    You’re absolutely right about one thing, among many: when a Driver sets an incentive system using his own values for the rewards, he’s very likely to turn off folks who really don’t work for a Ferrari like he does. It widens an already significant gap within the organization, and can kill morale instead of build it.

    I think my favorite thing about the tech startups I also work with is, they are populated almost exclusively by Altruists and (especially) Pioneers. Drivers and Stabilizers don’t show up much.

    Thanks again for this great contribution to our community, Michelle!

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  • Michelle:

    This was a terrific read. It touches on all the most important aspects of what I refer to as “positive success.” It is a topic I am passionate about and just one reason I was drawn to this site – the karma is magnetic!

    Thanks Michelle and Ted.

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