What is the SCARF Model?

The SCARF Model is a Tool that helps to Improve Interpersonal Relationships by addressing the Factors that affect them the most.

  • It was created by David Rock in 2008.

 

To do this, it proposes that there are 5 Social Factors affecting Interpersonal Relationships.

And, in order to Improve Personal Relationships, it is important to:

  • Avoid Threatening these Factors.
  • Taking Care of Rewarding these Factors.

 

Its name is an acronym for the 5 proposed Factors:

  • Status.
  • Certainty.
  • Autonomy.
  • Relatedness.
  • Fairness.

Five Factors of the SCARF Model

1. Status: The place occupied in the Hierarchical Social or Professional scale.

  • Threat: To Question the Legitimacy of Someone’s Position.
  • Reward: To Reaffirm Someone’s Authority.

 

2. Certainty: What is Taken for Granted, True and Predictable.

  • Threat: To Question a Perception, a Vision or an Assumption.
  • Reward: To Agree on How Someone Perceives something.

 

3. Autonomy: The Degrees of Freedom Someone has.

  • Threat: To Question the Ability of Someone to make Decisions.
  • Reward: To Respect Someone’s Actions when you Disagree.

 

4. Relatedness: The Feeling of being a Member of an Institution or Group.

  • Threat: To Question the Belonging of a person to a Group.
  • Reward: To Celebrate or Join the Group Someone belongs to.

 

5. Fairness: The Feeling of being treated the same as others.

  • Threat: To Modify what is considered Good or Bad.
  • Reward: Treat everyone Fairly, regardless of Who they are.

 

SCARF Model Template.

 

Now, before looking at some examples, we want to offer you a little guide on How to use this method.

 

These types of Methods are very useful but, since they are intuitive, People forget about synthesizing them.

How to Use the SCARF Model

When giving Feedback to Someone, address these Factors one by one.

  • This way, the person will internalize the Message much better.

 

Keep these 5 Factors always in mind when Interacting with People.

  • Find Out what these 5 Factors mean for each person you know.

 

Review your Professional or Personal Relationships that don’t work.

  • Think about the Factors that could have been addressed incorrectly and fix them.

 

Keep Track of these Factors in your most important Personal Relationships.

  • When talking about a delicate Topic or giving Advice, for example.

 

Have a Notebook, where you analyze these Factors for your Key Relationships.

  • With your Boss, your Partner… Or your mother-in-law (you better not bother).

Now, we’ll share some Useful examples with you:

SCARF Model examples

Now, we’ll imagine that you are a Manager.

  • You have recently been Promoted and you want to “shine” at your Job.

 

You are very aware that, at your Position, Personal Relationships are extremely Important.

  • That is why you have decided to Inform yourself about the SCARF method.

 

Let’s see How you use it:

Status - SCARF Model example

 

Now that you are a Manager, your Professional Status has increased.

  • But, also, your Ability to Challenge the Status of other employees.

 

That is Why, in order to be more Accepted and Respected, You’ll Try to:

  • Respect the Status / Position / Authority of your Key Employees.
  • Treat other Managers as Equals, without letting them question your Position.
  • Reaffirm the Authority of your Bosses, Respecting their decisions.

Certainty - SCARF Model example

 

As you have recently learned, Certainty is key to making people Feel Comfortable.

 

What you decide to Do in this Regard?

You think very Carefully about How you want the Operations to be carried out.

  • You want to Implement Strong and Stable Guidelines.

 

You Want to Convey Stability to your Employees.

  • Instead of changing the way things are done every 2 days.
    • Very common, Unfortunately.

 

Stability gives Predictability, and Predictability gives Certainty.

Autonomy - SCARF Model example

 

Autonomy is a factor that you are very familiar with.

  • You hated when somebody challenged your Autonomy.

 

But, of course, you can’t give complete Autonomy to everyone.

  • It depends on the employee.

 

That is Why you decide to:

Establish Clear and Transparent Limits to your employees.

  • Red Lines they can understand and agree with.

 

You commit to respect their Autonomy within those Red lines.

  • Increasing their Autonomy if they do well.
    • And holding them accountable for their mistakes.

Relatedness - SCARF Model example

 

In addition to Respecting the Groups or Institutions to which your employees belong

  • Their football team, their regional traditions, etc.

… You decide to Foster a sense of belonging to your Team.

 

How?

You arrange frequent meeting with your Team.

  • Letting them know each other.

 

You decide to Organize Business Lunches.

  • Once every trimester, you’ll all go to have a Casual Lunch.

 

You will increase your Interest in the Personal affairs of your employees.

  • People develop a sense of belonging to those who care for them..

Fairness - SCARF Model example

 

To be Fair, you’ll:

  • Treat everybody the same, regardless of Personal ties or preferences.
  • Assess things with Objective Measurable Metrics.
  • Encourage your employees to treat each other fairly.

 

You want everyone to be judged for their work in a Fair, Equal and Transparent way.

Summarizing

The SCARF Model is a Tool that helps to Improve Interpersonal Relationships by addressing the Factors that affect them the most.

 

It proposes that there are 5 Social Factors affecting Interpersonal Relationships:

  1. Status: The place occupied in the Hierarchical Social or Professional scale.
  2. Certainty: What is Taken for Granted, True and Predictable.
  3. Autonomy: The Degrees of Freedom Someone has.
  4. Relatedness: The Feeling of being a Member of an Institution or Group.
  5. Fairness: The Feeling of being treated the same as others.

 

In order to Improve Personal Relationships, it is important to:

  • Avoid Threatening these Factors.
  • Taking Care of Rewarding these Factors.

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