Are You Dealing With Your Team’s Basic Needs?

Needs and Wants


You will have heard of Abraham Maslow’s Hierarchy of Motivational Needs, and they are still very relevant to today’s culture and societal direction. However, since Maslow’s time, others have taken these ideas of motivation and developed them to reflect the changes we constantly go through. Among these is Tony Robbins, whose thoughts have influenced millions.

Robbins has identified six basic human needs and believes everyone is—or can be—motivated by their desire to fulfill these needs.

You may want to consider these needs when thinking about developing and driving performance through your people. The question to ask is, “What need or needs can I affect and fulfill for my team member at work?”

1. Certainty/Comfort. We all want comfort. And much of this comfort comes from certainty. Of course there is never total certainty, but we want certainty about our job security, our salary will be paid this month and our company will still be here next year. So think about how you can fulfill this particular need for physical and psychological certainty for people.

2. Variety. At the same time we want certainty, we also crave variety. Paradoxically, there needs to be enough UNcertainty to provide interest and variety in our jobs. Help people to manage projects rather than just do jobs. That way, they do different things each day, against the backdrop of certainty that has been provided.

3. Significance. Deep down, we all want to be important. We want our life to have meaning and significance. If a team member is simply doing a job that doesn’t appear to contribute very much and doesn’t drive their motivation, they won’t feel significant or that they are making a difference. Make sure that you acknowledge the significance of each employee as often as possible.

4. Connection/Love. It would be hard to argue against the need for belonging. We want to feel part of a community. We want to be cared for and cared about. This drives performance because people want to feel part of a team and that they matter to their colleagues. Give teamwork a chance to develop and help people work together towards a common goal.

5. Growth. Some managers on our programmes say that they have team members who say they don’t want to grow, but I think they’re simply fearful of doing so—or perhaps NOT doing so. To become better, to improve our skills, to stretch and excel may be more evident in some than others, but it’s there. Everyone will want to grow in some area; we just have to find out which area that is.

6. Contribution. The desire to contribute something of value is deep down in all of us. Everyone wants to feel they have contributed to something, somewhere, to somebody. This highest needs corresponds to Maslow’s self-actualisation, the thought that our life, our work, actually matters and we have made a difference simply by being here. Leaving a legacy at work should be one of our goals; we can make that a goal for every team member, also.

Robbins recognises that each person has these basic needs. As managers, we can be really successful if we make sure we assist our teams to fulfil each of these. The more you can do that, the better they will feel about themselves, and about you, and the more motivated they will feel.

Many thanks

Sean McPheat

Managing Director

MTD Training   | Image courtesy by David Castillo Dominici of FreeDigitalPhotos.Net

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Originally published: 16 May, 2012