4C Model In A Nutshell

The 4C model was developed by WeThrive co-founder Piers Bishop, a psychotherapist who specializes in business and human needs psychology. The 4C model is a model used by businesses to identify causes of employee underperformance in the workplace.

Understanding the 4C model

The model examines both the conscious and subconscious factors that impact employees in the workplace. Based on the results of a series of survey questions, businesses can understand the causes of low employee motivation, engagement, and performance. 

Bishop also created two additional versions of the 4C model that also have implications for employee performance: 

  1. The mental health and well-being model – which identifies the areas that impede one’s mental health and happiness, and
  2. The diversity, equality, equity & inclusion model – which enables organizations to create inclusive workplace cultures where the needs of all employees are met regardless of their background, circumstances, identity, or abilities.

The four components of the 4C model

The core needs of employees fall under four central components of the 4C model, with the model itself depicted as a circle with multiple colored segments. 

For the sake of this article, we’ll focus on the 4C model variation that measures employee engagement and experience.


The capability segment determines whether staff have what they need to execute their work to a sufficient standard. As products, trends, techniques, or regulations evolve, the model acknowledges that a shortfall in certain skills or resources may become apparent.

Many employees try to conceal these shortfalls, but what they need is to be seen by the organization. Only then can staff develop as professionals, experience greater job satisfaction, and work more productively. 

Key capability needs include:

  • Knowledge.
  • Skills.
  • Resources, and
  • Competence.


Employees who respond positively to the connection segment are likely to be part of a focused and contented team. But there is always room for improvement. Some may not feel part of a team and as a result, are absent more often and do not fulfill their potential.

While difficult to measure, the somewhat unseen social mechanisms present in all workplaces have a profound impact on whether employees are happy. When individuals feel socially connected and valued for their achievements, organizations are characterized by openness, health, intelligent performance, and increased employee retention.

Key connection needs include:

  • Attention.
  • A common bond, and
  • Status.


The cognitive segment encompasses how well people understand their work. Low scores indicate that communication is poor, incorrect assumptions have been made, or vital information is incomplete or missing. 

The four cognitive-based needs include:

  1. Company and customers – does the employee understand the company’s mission and the needs of the customer?
  2. Personal performance – does the employee understand what is required of them in clear, consistent, unambiguous terms?
  3. Team understanding – is the employee aware of the roles and aims of team members?
  4. Team cooperation – the extent to which teams can collaborate and solve problems to increase the brain power of the organization


Fundamentally, the confidence segment of the 4C model shows how well employees are coping with work-related demands. Problems in this area of the model reflect problems in the other three areas and the level of employee resilience.

Management should monitor the five confidence-based needs to determine where to focus their efforts:

  1. Security – to what extent do staff feel secure at the work? Are they free to make mistakes or take leave as required?
  2. Control – do staff possess a level of autonomy over their work?
  3. Headspace – is there sufficient time built into work routines to prevent mistakes and a decrease in motivation? 
  4. Worry – to what extent are staff free from worry and able to perform well?
  5. Meaning – does the employee find meaning and purpose in their work? Are they engaged and stimulated?

Key takeaways:

  • The 4C model is a model used by businesses to identify causes of employee underperformance in the workplace and thus build a better culture.
  • The 4C model was developed by WeThrive co-founder Piers Bishop, a psychotherapist who specializes in business and human needs psychology. Bishop created three variations of his model to analyze employee engagement and experience, mental health and wellbeing, and workplace diversity.
  • The four components of the 4C model for employee engagement and experience include capability, connection, cognitive, and confidence. Each of these components clarifies certain needs that management must consider.

Read Next: OKRSMART Goals.

Related Management Concepts


Andy Grove, helped Intel become among the most valuable companies by 1997. In his years at Intel, he conceived a management and goal-setting system, called OKR, standing for “objectives and key results.” Venture capitalist and early investor in Google, John Doerr, systematized in the book “Measure What Matters.”

Smart Goals

A SMART goal is any goal with a carefully planned, concise, and trackable objective. To be such a goal needs to be specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-based. Bringing structure and trackability to goal setting increases the chances goals will be achieved, and it helps align the organization around those goals.


Micromanagement is about tightly controlling or observing employees’ work. Although this management style might be understood in some cases, especially for small-scale projects, generally speaking, micromanagement has a negative connotation mainly because it shows a lack of trust and freedom in the workplace, which leads to adverse outcomes.

Delegative Leadership

Developed by business consultants Kenneth Blanchard and Paul Hersey in the 1960s, delegative leadership is a leadership style where authority figures empower subordinates to exercise autonomy. For this reason, it is also called laissez-faire leadership. In some cases, this leadership type can lead to increased work quality and decision-making. In a few other cases, this type of leadership needs to be balanced out to prevent a lack of direction and cohesiveness in the team.

Agile Leadership

Agile leadership is the embodiment of agile manifesto principles by a manager or management team. Agile leadership impacts two important levels of a business. The structural level defines the roles, responsibilities, and key performance indicators. The behavioral level describes the actions leaders exhibit to others based on agile principles. 

Active Listening

Active listening is the process of listening attentively while someone speaks and displaying understanding through verbal and non-verbal techniques. Active listening is a fundamental part of good communication, fostering a positive connection and building trust between individuals.

Adaptive Leadership

Adaptive leadership is a model used by leaders to help individuals adapt to complex or rapidly changing environments. Adaptive leadership is defined by three core components (precious or expendable, experimentation and smart risks, disciplined assessment). Growth occurs when an organization discards ineffective ways of operating. Then, active leaders implement new initiatives and monitor their impact.

RASCI Matrix

A RASCI matrix is used to assign and then display the various roles and responsibilities in a project, service, or process. It is sometimes called a RASCI Responsibility Matrix. The RASCI matrix is essentially a project management tool that provides important clarification for organizations involved in complex projects.

Flat Organizational Structure

In a flat organizational structure, there is little to no middle management between employees and executives. Therefore it reduces the space between employees and executives to enable an effective communication flow within the organization, thus being faster and leaner.

Tactical Management

Tactical management involves choosing an appropriate course of action to achieve a strategic plan or objective. Therefore, tactical management comprises the set of daily operations that support long strategy delivery. It may involve risk management, regular meetings, conflict resolution, and problem-solving.

High-Performance Management

High-performance management involves the implementation of HR practices that are internally consistent and aligned with organizational strategy. Importantly, high-performance management is a continual process where several different but integrated activities create a performance management cycle. It is not a process that should be performed once a year and then hidden in a filing cabinet.

Scientific Management

Scientific Management Theory was created by Frederick Winslow Taylor in 1911 to encourage industrial companies to switch to mass production. With a background in mechanical engineering, he applied engineering principles to workplace productivity on the factory floor. Scientific Management Theory seeks to find the most efficient way to perform a workplace job.

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