Dr. Katie's Research

One of the things that sets Catalyst Development apart from other leadership development companies is that our curriculum is based on Dr. Katie’s academic research (at Indiana State University and Kansas State University) on workplace motivation and employee satisfaction.

Self Determination Theory

In 1985, psychologists Edward Deci and Richard Ryan introduced the self-determination theory (SDT) of motivation, which provides a framework for a person’s motivation level. SDT is unique because it explains motivation level as a continuum that a person moves through based on their experience and the situation they are presented. The theory presents the three basic needs of people as relatedness, competence and autonomy.

Self determination theory

Dr. Katie realized that, while Self Determination Theory had been studied in other contexts including fitness and schools, no one had yet applied it to the workplace. She set about doing so and concluded that at the very basic level, our employees want a sense of belonging and community, the tools and training to do the job they were hired to do, and then to be allowed to do their job.

From there, Dr. Katie Ervin developed the Catalyst Workplace Model, which is  rooted in self-determination theory. She found in her research that self determination theory had great application in the workplace but was lacking a workplace model. This model shows the importance of creating a workplace environment that focuses on relatedness, competence and autonomy to improve workplace motivation and happiness at work.

It is important for leaders to understand their employee’s basic psychological needs of relatednesscompetence, and autonomy.

Relatedness – need to have a close relationship with others

Competence – need to be effective in dealing with environment

Autonomy – need to control the course of their lives

The impact of career planning on retention

Dr. Katie’s has also conducted research on the benefits of career planning in employee retention.

Through her a field project working with an IT startup in Indianapolis, Dr. Katie found that clear career ladders were even more valuable to teams than other benefitsThis, along with natural “cross over points” if employees wanted to learn new skills or join other departments, not only improved retention but also assisted in recruiting high performers.

At Catalyst Development, we continually implement these findings, creating training plans for each career level.  This allows employees to understand their path and what it takes to be prepared for the next career level.