Improving Motivation and Job Satisfaction – the importance of the Graves Drives

One valuable use of MindSonar is to identify a person’s motivators.  For example, this is important when designing recruitment and retention strategies for an organisation and for individual teams, and when coaching individuals who want to achieve a long-term goal which will take time and dedication.

In using MindSonar for these purposes it’s important to look at the Graves Drives within each profile.  These will tell you a lot about the values that matter most to the individual – the things that they need to get from the given context in order to feel fulfilled and motivated.  By looking at the Graves Drives of the individuals concerned, it usually becomes apparent that, even in the same context, different people have quite different values.

For example, in people considering changing jobs in a particular sector, I have seen some who prioritise the Graves Drives Powerand Competition, and others for whom Learning and Order are the priorities. Similar differences can exist even between members of the same team.

By knowing this and by being aware of the impact of not enabling individuals to obtain them (namely, dissatisfaction and demotivation) managers and coaches can develop a more tailored approach to motivation.  This could be by using different language when describing the opportunities available – emphasising those aspects which match what is important to the individual, or (for larger organisations) it could be about providing a more varied range of any optional benefits available to staff.

Without the information that is provided by the Graves Drives as identified by the MindSonar profile it is all too easy to fall back on the assumption that all people are motivated by the same things. Such an approach can lead to poor recruitment and retention results for companies, or to coaching clients becoming disenchanted with their progress towards major goals.

Of course, the whole profile should be taken into account as thinking styles are also an important consideration, but without an understanding of the individual’s values, much could be missed.

If you’ve done a MindSonar profile, have another look at your Graves drives and think about how they are influencing you in that context – could you improve your own motivation by taking them more into account?  If you haven’t done a profile yet, then why not contact a certified MindSonar Professional to arrange one – it could make all the difference to your success!

Money Mindset Problems in New Businesses

When working with clients who are on the brink of becoming freelance or self-employed in a services business, I often come across a particular mindset about money which is holding them back or which, if not addressed, will lead to them not being able to have a sustainable business.

This mindset is connected to how they perceive the value of their own time and skills, and prevents them from asking a fair price for their services, particularly for their time.

I’m finding that a MindSonar profile can really help such clients to identify which thinking patterns are at play in this situation.  The strength of MindSonar is its contextual nature, so it can be used to focus in on the problem area and the relevant thinking patterns.

In the clients in question, MindSonar helps identify how their thinking about charging for their services differs from their thinking around the other aspects of their new business.

For example, often a person who has decided to be self-employed might have a combination of the following Meta Programmes in the context of their business as a whole:

  • Internally Referenced
  • Internal Locus of Control
  • Proactive

However, when they consider pricing they move to the following combination:

  • Externally Referenced (“what will others think about these prices, when I’m only just starting out?”)
  • External Locus of Control (“I just can’t ask that much because the economy is not good, so no-one will be able to afford me”)
  • Reactive (“I keep thinking that there are some  businesses charging less, but I also think that I’m offering a better service, so maybe I can charge more…”).

Working with these clients to develop a realistic business model in which they charge the true value of their services usually involves some general coaching around self-worth, confidence, etc.  With MindSonar, it can also enable very targeted coaching on the relevant Meta Programmes.

Different clients might identify other Meta Programmes which are causing the problem, and I’m looking forward to uncovering which ones as I use MindSonar more in this context.

What are your experiences – have used MindSonar in this context yet? Perhaps you struggle with charging a fair price for your services.  If so, contact your local MindSonar Professional who will help you get your business in a healthier position.

Please let me know your thoughts on this in the comments section below.



Improving Business Partnerships

Working with small businesses, I often come across partnerships in which the two partners are experiencing some conflict about their business. Recently, I worked with such a partnership using MindSonar to shine a light on the thinking patterns behind the differences. This understanding led to them being able to review the way worked so that each played to their strengths and were able to cover each other’s blind spots.

The partners (whom I shall call Peter and  Carol – not their real names) wanted the following question answering through their MindSonar session:

How can we best use our different approaches to develop a more efficient business model”.

They described recent disagreements which were mainly down to two things:

  1. Division of the administrative side of the business, particularly record keeping and the organisation of accounting records.
  2. The future direction and growth strategy for the business.

Each partner completed a MindSonar profile in this context.


IWe explored their profiles, noting both the main differences in their thinking patterns as well as the areas in which they shared the same blind spots. Two particular examples of this were:

  1. A large difference between the partners’ approach to change. Carol had a preference for change (spilt between Developmentand Change), whereas Peter had a very strong preference for Maintenance.
  2. They had similar (very strong) scores for the Optionsmeta programme. This was strengthened by neither scoring highly for the BLUE Graves drive.  However, in his criteria Peter had added a caveat about options of “where appropriate”

The partners recognised their profiles as accurate and could identify a number of things which were contributing to their conflict.  In particular, they could see that their different approaches to change created disagreements around the future direction and growth strategy of the business.

They also both recognised their high OptionsMeta Programme and acknowledge that they were good at identifying and constructing procedures, but not at following them. They agreed that this explained the tension around administrative work. However, Peter could identify areas outside business in which he did use a Proceduremeta programme.

After exploring those and other differences in their profiles, the partners identified a number of  actions that they would take immediately. Two key ones were:

  1. Peter would be responsible for identifying the areas of the business that were currently successful and determine procedures to build on this and which could be applied to any new areas (using his MaintenanceMeta Programme and “stepping into” the Proceduremeta programme that he used in other areas). Peter was open to options about some areas of the business, but not his own speciality which he felt was right where it needed to be.  Therefore, Carol would have responsibility for identifying possible options for general business development, including new areas in her area of specialty that she could take forward (Using her OptionsandChangeMeta Programmes).
  2. For administration and other procedural activities, they agreed that they would consider out-sourcing these, recognising that neither of them particularly wanted to spend the time in the business doing these. Again Peter would “step into” the Proceduremeta programme in the meantime.

Following the session, the clients said they were impressed with the accuracy of the profiles and the usefulness of the exercise in which they identified their own and each other’s strengths and blind-spots.  They felt that they now had a great understanding of how they could work to make the most of each one’s strengths.  They expressed an interest in further coaching to develop other areas identified.

Of course, this is a brief summary, and the partners discovered many other things during the session which they felt would enable them to work better as a partnership, leading to greater personal and business success.

If you work with partnerships or very small teams, you should definitely consider using MindSonar to really optimise your working relationships and team efficiency.  You can find a MindSonar Professional near you in the Registry on this site.

How do Criteria, Values, Meta Programs and Graves Drives Fit together?

Let’s start with criterion. This is actually the broadest concept of the four.  Criteria are standards by which we evaluate things. When you meet someone new, you may be using ‘happy’ as a criterion for evaluating the other person. Do they look happy? Great! Do they look unhappy? Not so good.

are criteria too, but they are very important criteria. ‘Honesty’ might be a value when you meet someone new. Sometimes these very important criteria are called ‘core values‘. If someone you meet doesn’t seem very happy, you may find that not so good, but even though happy is a criterion for you, you might not worry about it too much. But if they strike you as dishonest, you might think twice about meeting them again. There is a sliding scale between ‘Criterion’ on the one end and ‘Value’ on the other end. As a criterion becomes more and more important, at some point we call it a value. So when we ask ‘What do you find most important in this situation?’ we are asking you to give a value.

Meta Programs
Meta Programs are ways in which you handle your values. For instance: are you presupposing people will be honest (meta program: matching) or are you presupposing they will be dishonest (meta program: mismatching)?

Graves Drives
Graves Drives are a typology of criteria. In MindSonar we ask you to indicate, for each of your criteria, which Graves drives they are related to most. For example: is honesty about power for you (red drive)? Or is it about community (green drive)? If somebody else had ‘Openness’ as a value, would that be similar to honesty or not? We can’t know  from looking at the words ‘honesty’ and ‘openness’. But if we know that two people both categorise their (differently labeled) values in the same Graves Drive, we know that their values are similar.

Categorizing Criteria
The American psychologist Clare W. Graves theorized that there are eight value systems, which evolved over the course of human history. He assumed that each value system flows from the previous one as a response to:
a. Ever more complex life circumstances
b. Problems with the previous set of values.

MindSonar measures the extent to which your criteria are associated with seven of the eight Graves Drives. We call this ‘Graves categorisation’: putting your criteria (which you already described) into one or more Graves categories. This makes it possible to compare criteria between you and other people or between yourself in different situations.

Clare W. Graves was a professor of Psychology in the sixties and seventies of the 20th century at Union College in New York, the same university where Abraham Maslow taught at the time.

Maslow was developing his motivation theory (Maslow’s pyramid of needs), which shows the development of individual needs. The highest level of Maslow’s hierarchy, ‘self-actualization’, fit right in with the prevailing views of the seventies.

Graves thought this model did not offer a broad enough base for understanding man as a bio-psycho-social-cultural being. He assumed that human behaviour was not determined by individual needs alone, but by a combination of social, biological and psychological factors. Graves theorized that there are eight value systems which evolved over the course of the past 100,000 years of human history. Graves called these value systems ‘Levels of existence’.

Bertrand Russell on Criteria

“All human activity is prompted by desire. There is a wholly fallacious theory advanced by some earnest moralists to the effect that it is possible to resist desire in the interests of duty and moral principle. I say this is fallacious, not because no man ever acts from a sense of duty, but because duty has no hold on him unless he desires to be dutiful. If you wish to know what men will do, you must know not only, or principally, their material circumstances, but rather the whole system of their desires with their relative strengths”.

Bertrand Russell accepting his Nobel prize in 1950