Talent & The “Misunderstanding Maslow” Factor

Most
of us have been exposed to Maslow’s Hierarchy of
Needs.
In fact, I’ve read that it is the most-used model in management
training. I think it’s also one of the most mis-represented and
misunderstood.Just in case you stepped out of the meeting room that day for an
oatmeal cookie and bottled water:Psychologist Abraham Maslow synthesized the research available up to the year
1954 about what motivates people. He came up with a shopping
list of needs that we all try to satisfy. Have a look at the graphic
below for a reminder or if you are experiencing it for the first time:I’ve never seen much argument about the content of the list. But the
hierarchical implication has been rendered invalid by later
research. Yet managers are still told that this is a
“ladder that people climb” and that employees must have one set of
needs satisfied before they move onto the next.That means there are still vast numbers of well-meaning managers
thinking, “Oh, I really can’t start working on high performance until we
have all of our “group issues” sorted out.Not so.The fact of the matter is that we’re constantly chasing satisfaction
in all of these areas simultaneously to some degree. For example: You may be working on becoming an accepted member of a
team. But that doesn’t stop you from spending a little time adjusting
your 401k mix and volunteering with Habitat for Humanity. The only need that I’ve seen block the rest of the hierarchy is a
seriously unmet Physiological need. If you’re worried about your next
meal, losing your home to foreclosure, or paying out-of-pocket for a
major surgical procedure, the pressure at that level doesn’t allow much
freedom to focus on anything else.How can organizations use this for meaningful impact?Managers are the Mediators of Meaning1. Physiological and Stability/Safety needs are met through corporate
policies: adequate pay, benefits, and safety procedures. These are
satisfied when organizations who claim “People Are Our Most Important
Asset” back up the statement by ensuring that these needs are met
as a matter of policy and philosophy.2. The higher level needs can only be satisfied by assignments,
development, and solid day-to-day management. This means that “Managers
are the Mediators of Meaning” for their people. Surveys and research data consistently show that the immediate supervisor has the most impact on one’s performance, productivity,
and feelings about the workplace.Every supervisor reading this can use the pyramid above as one more tool to start a discussion with employees about where they are and what they need to keep their
batteries charged. But there has to be an ongoing conversation for something meaningful to happen.If you take time to ask people what they’re looking for, they will tell you. And that makes your job a whole lot easier.
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Steve has designed and delivered leadership and communication programs for some of the world's largest organizations, and has more than 30 years in training, development, and high-level executive coaching. His Roesler Group has created and delivered leadership and talent development internationally for corporations such as Pfizer, Minerals Technologies, Johnson & Johnson, NordCarb Oy Ab, and Specialty Minerals--Europe. Steve is currently involved in the latest update of his Presenting With Impact program, a cross-cultural presentations workshop that has been delivered on five continents to more than 1,000 participants representing nearly 60 nationalities.

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Talent & The “Misunderstanding Maslow” Factor

Most
of us have been exposed to Maslow’s Hierarchy of
Needs
.
In fact, I’ve read that it is the most-used model in management
training. I think it’s also one of the most mis-represented and
misunderstood.

Just in case you stepped out of the meeting room that day for an
oatmeal cookie and bottled water:

Psychologist Abraham Maslow synthesized the research available up to the year
1954 about what motivates people. He came up with a shopping
list of needs that we all try to satisfy. Have a look at the graphic
below and double-click for a larger version.

Maslow1001_2

I’ve never seen much argument about the content of the list. But the
hierarchical implication has been rendered invalid by later
research. Yet managers are still told that this is a
“ladder that people climb” and that employees must have one set of
needs satisfied before they move onto the next.

That means there are still vast numbers of well-meaning managers
thinking, “Oh, I really can’t start working on high performance until we
have all of our “group issues” sorted out.

Not so.

The fact of the matter is that we’re constantly chasing satisfaction
in all of these areas simultaneously to some degree.

For example: You may be working on becoming an accepted member of a
team. But that doesn’t stop you from spending a little time adjusting
your 401k mix and volunteering with Habitat for Humanity.

The only need that I’ve seen block the rest of the hierarchy is a
seriously unmet Physiological need. If you’re worried about your next
meal, losing your home to foreclosure, or paying out-of-pocket for a
major surgical procedure, the pressure at that level doesn’t allow much
freedom to focus on anything else.

How can organizations use this for meaningful impact?

Managers are the Mediators of Meaning

1. Physiological and Stability/Safety needs are met through corporate
policies: adequate pay, benefits, and safety procedures. These are
satisfied when organizations who claim “People Are Our Most Important
Asset”
back up the statement by ensuring that these needs are met
as a matter of policy and philosophy.

2. The higher level needs can only be satisfied by assignments,
development, and solid day-to-day management. This means that “Managers
are the Mediators of Meaning” for their people. Surveys and research data consistently show that the immediate supervisor has the most impact on one’s performance, productivity,
and feelings about the workplace.

Every supervisor reading this can use the pyramid above as one more tool to start a discussion with employees about where they are and what they need to keep their
batteries charged. But there has to be an ongoing conversation for something meaningful to happen.

If you take time to ask people what they’re looking for, they will tell you. And that makes your job a whole lot easier.


Link to original post

Avatar

Steve has designed and delivered leadership and communication programs for some of the world's largest organizations, and has more than 30 years in training, development, and high-level executive coaching. His Roesler Group has created and delivered leadership and talent development internationally for corporations such as Pfizer, Minerals Technologies, Johnson & Johnson, NordCarb Oy Ab, and Specialty Minerals--Europe. Steve is currently involved in the latest update of his Presenting With Impact program, a cross-cultural presentations workshop that has been delivered on five continents to more than 1,000 participants representing nearly 60 nationalities.

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