The science behind our 4C Engagement model
Lauren Rolfe avatar
Written by Lauren Rolfe
Updated over a week ago

4C is a proprietary model that wraps core ideas from motivational theory into a practical tool for managers. It diagnoses likely causes of upset and underperformance in the workforce, and automatically outputs coaching suggestions to line managers.

This makes it much easier for line managers to know what their teams need to be happy and work well, and to intervene in ways that will produce real improvements.

Questions fall into four main areas of working life we call Cognitive, Capability, Connection and Confidence.

This summary shows some relationships from these questions to other frameworks, plus additional references for the concepts.


This area is about communication and understanding and contains four top-level questions:

Q1 FH HG RD M H is about connection to the company itself and the customers. People act more willingly and receive more satisfaction and meaning from that action when it is done for the benefit of another human being, so an employee who does not have a concrete connection to company and customer will be less motivated but will not know it, or know why.

Q2 HG is about personal performance specification - not just what is it but how far is it in concrete terms rather than ‘jargon’, or abstract or nominalised language 1. Abstract nouns create an illusion of understanding which not only creates errors directly but also wastes mental energy and is debilitating as the brain searches fruitlessly for a solid pattern-match. Much official communication is counter-productive in this way, raising blood pressure and making people angry or depressed without realising it or knowing why it is happening.

  1. This problem is not a merely philosophical one, as any reader of a Government circular will attest: abstract language causes brain-fog, frustration and even raised blood pressure as the brain struggles to attach meaning to the words. Wittgenstein explored this problem extensively, pointing out that ‘language is not contiguous to anything else’. See Lectures, Cambridge 1930-32. From the Notes of John King and Desmond Lee . Ed. Desmond Lee. P.75. Chicago: University of Chicago Press

Q3 FH HG RD M H follows from Q2 and is about the degree to which the other team members share the same picture of what is to be done. It will uncover communication problems, either structural or personal, which are likely to be creating inefficiency and frustration in the team.

Q4 FH HG RD M H is about how far the team feel they are co-operating with each other; this is particularly interesting if it scores less well while Q 1-3 score well.


This area is about whether staff have what they need to do their work well:

Q5-7 are pragmatic and inquire how far people have the knowledge, skills and resources needed to perform their work.

Q8 FH HG RD M H and subsidiaries establish whether the employee is also getting feedback from colleagues and/or management that establishes for them a sense of competence.


This area is about social and emotional factors at work:

Q9 HG RD asks about attention from other team members and management.

Q10 FH HG RD M H enquires whether the employee has a feeling of community with the team.

Q11 FH HG M H is about perceived status and recognition - whether the employee feels that the value of what s/he does is acknowledged.


This area covers a number of potential warning signs that may or may not be independent of earlier domains:

Q12 HG M H is about personal, employment and intellectual security in the role.

Q13 HG RD M is about control and autonomy.

Q14 R RD is about time and space needed to clear one’s head during the working day.

Q15 FH HG M H asks about anticipatory anxiety, or foreboding.

Q16 FH HG M is about the meaning derived from work by the employee.

Mapping these questions to antecedent models is complex, not least because they are also nominalisations, albeit they attempt to represent internal states brought about by ‘real’ neuronal and hormonal reactions to social situations. However, the superscript letters after the question numbers map how they relate to domains in other models of what is needed for satisfactory human function, and the number reference provides additional background for Q2.

Items marked RD relate to items in the SDT Basic Psychological Needs Scale and/or Intrinsic Motivation Inventory from SDT (Ryan and Deci).

Items marked H relate to items in the Herzberg motivators and hygiene factors model.

Items marked M relate to items in the Maslow hierarchy of needs.

Items marked FH relate to items in the Friedmann and Havighurst five functions of work model.

Items marked HG relate to items in the Emotional Needs Scale (Griffin and Tyrrell).

Additionally, the ‘space’ domain (Q14) marked R relates to the basic rest-activity cycle (Ernest Rossi).

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