• joe@jhanderson.biz   
    (206) 351-5607   

  • In his book Your Brain at Work, David Rock introduces the SCARF model, a useful paradigm for understanding what motivates all of us, at work and beyond:

    • Status: how important are you to others?
    • Certainty: how well can you predict what’s going to happen to you?
    • Autonomy: how much control do you have over events?
    • Relatedness: how safe do you feel with others?
    • Fairness: how equitably are you being treated?

    Each of these attributes is closely linked to your sense of well-being. The more you experience an abundance of these things, the safer, healthier and more productive you can be. When you experience their scarcity, the opposite is true: you feel stress and anxiety and their negative impact on your health and ability to function well.

    Forces beyond your control, within and outside your organization, have a huge impact on how your team experiences the SCARF attributes. But you can do a lot to supply these nutrients to each other, regardless of external circumstances.

    • You can increase the sense of Status on your team by giving each other genuine positive feedback and recognition.
    • You can increase the sense of Certainty on your team by helping each other build structure and planning frameworks.
    • You can increase the sense of Autonomy on your team by helping each other find empowerment to take initiative and ownership.
    • You can increase the sense of Relatedness on your team by working together to build team cohesion.
    • You can increase the sense of Fairness on your team by being transparent with each other and advocating together for fairness-related values in your organization.

    Try It: Have a conversation with your team about your SCARF attributes, individually and as a group. Identify areas where you can work together to make one or more attributes better. Make a commitment to help each other in specific, concrete ways. If you spot organizational issues that negatively impact the attributes, take action together to advocate for improvements.

    Image: By Luctor [Public domain], from Wikimedia Commons