Solving the Mystery of Motivation Using the RICE Method: Part 1  

June 18, 2024

Matt Gainsford

Matt Gainsford

If you want to make a great hire, turn a B-Player into an A-Player, or transform your company culture, you should understand one fundamental question: What motivates them? 

solving the mystery of motivation with the rice method

“Motivation is the reason why you act or behave in a certain way.”

Tony Robbins

Understanding what truly motivates someone is like deciphering a secret code. It unlocks the key to their actions, decisions, and long-term satisfaction.  

When it comes to the workplace, this code becomes especially crucial. By understanding what motivates your employees and potential hires, you can build a team that is not only skilled but also deeply engaged and driven to succeed. 

This 2-Part blog will delve into the importance of motivation in Talent Strategy. In part 1 we explore how the RICE method is used by intelligence experts for discerning motivation, how they put it into practice effectively, and what this could mean for your hiring, engagement, and retention efforts. In Part 2 we’ll be getting curious, giving assumptions the boot, and leaning into how active listening unlocks deeper insights into what makes individuals tick.  

We’ll also touch on why our Hire 4 Performance® holistic hiring method has become essential in defining the role and finding the person for the right seat. By the end, you’ll have the tools to cultivate a motivated workforce that thrives on a foundation of shared purpose and fulfillment. 

The High Cost of Hiring the Wrong Candidate  

Making the right hire is critical. According to the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), replacing a salaried employee can cost 50% to 200% of their annual salary [source: SHRM turnover cost statistic]. This highlights the importance of going beyond skills and experience to find someone who is a good motivational fit for the role and the company culture, that’s if you’re looking to that person for long-term partnership and impact.  

The Impact of Engaged Employees  

Understanding motivation isn’t just about avoiding bad hires, it’s about building a successful team. A study by Gallup found that highly engaged teams show 21% greater profitability compared to less engaged teams [source: Gallup employee engagement profitability]. When the work motivates employees, they achieve better business results. 

Simon Sinek, renowned for his work on leadership and motivation, emphasizes the importance of understanding the “why” behind actions. In his book, “Start with Why”, Sinek argues that great leaders and successful organizations inspire action by starting with a clear purpose.  

Sinek argues that a deeper sense of meaning and belonging motivates people more than external rewards. By communicating and aligning with this core purpose, leaders can inspire genuine motivation and loyalty, leading to higher engagement and performance. While Sinek’s insights have transformed our understanding of motivation, they are just the beginning. This is where the RICE method comes in. 

The RICE method expands upon Sinek’s work and explores the why behind the why.  

RICE: A Framework for Understanding Motivation  

In the intelligence world, understanding and leveraging someone’s motivation can determine success or failure. 

The RICE method, used in intelligence services to understand what motivates people, can also inform decisions within a successful people strategy. 

Reward: Candidates motivated by rewards center their motivation on tangible benefits like salary, bonuses, and rewards, driven by financial stability and career advancement opportunities. 

Ideology: Ideology involves a commitment to a cause or a set of values. Candidates driven by ideology seek alignment between their values and the company’s mission. These individuals are often deeply passionate about making a difference and contributing to the greater good.  

Coercion: Coercion is a less desirable form of motivation, where individuals act out of fear of negative consequences. While it can sometimes drive short-term results, reliance on coercion can lead to a toxic work environment and high turnover. Coercion doesn’t have to be something intentionally applied by an ill-equipped manager; it can also be the result of an unstable work environment. Coercion-centric motivation can lead to impulsive decisions and eventual mistakes.  

Ego: Ego-driven motivation pertains to the desire for recognition, status, and personal achievement. Candidates motivated by ego are often ambitious and seek roles that offer visibility and opportunities for leadership. If Ego is a motivator, it is not bad, it just means that this candidate/employee would thrive in an environment with healthy competition.  

Retention Through Motivation  

When you hire with motivation in mind, you’re setting yourself up for long-term success. Aligning roles, responsibilities, and rewards with individual motivations fosters a sense of fulfillment and engagement in employees. An employee-driven by ideology tends to stay with a company committed to social responsibility, whereas someone motivated by rewards seeks clear paths to financial and career advancement. 

As a manager or people leader, listening to your people (without judgment) and learning what motivates them is key to providing encouragement, growth, and critical feedback. An ideology-focused person will respond differently to an ego-motivated individual. They likely won’t care about public recognition in the same way. A positive response to motivation will deepen engagement and connection, and to get there you need to listen.  

The Wrap Up

In part 2 we are going to unpack how listening will uncover what motivates your people so you can lean into what is already there. No more searching in the dark with inspirational trial and error. Listen, learn, lead… let’s go.  

At Titus Talent Strategies, we understand the power of human connection. We believe that building genuine relationships is paramount in the talent acquisition process. Our commitment to being relentlessly relational goes beyond transactions; it’s about fostering trust and understanding with both candidates and clients. We invest time in getting to know your unique needs and the qualities that make a candidate a perfect fit for your company culture. This focus on people ensures we deliver high-caliber talent who will make a lasting impact on your organization.  

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