Taking Maslow To Work – Part 2

6 Sep

Last month’s article entitled ‘Taking Maslow To Work’ (www.thefocusedmanager.com /taking-maslow-to-work/) generated considerable interest, (thank you!).  So this month, I am expanding on the concepts I introduced in the workplace-tailored version of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs Model. 

Maslow 2

Whereas Maslow’s original work was intended to be universally applicable to all people in every circumstance, this tailored model specifically addresses the needs of team members in a workplace setting. Maslow’s needs are all relational in nature and since a team is a social construct made up of social beings, the model is equally applicable to both the team as a whole and to the individual team members.

 For the leader, the goal for the team and the team members is the same, to assist them in fulfilling their purpose.  In the case of the team, this does not simply mean to complete the “mission”, but rather for the team to grow into its potential.  Likewise, the goal for the team member is to grow into their potential and to realize their purpose.  In both cases, the leader fulfills more of a coaching role than one of directing or commanding. Thus, the measure of success for the leader is for the team and its members to be maturing towards fulfillment: a better team made up of better people!

Workplace Version of Maslow's Needs Model (19 July 2016)

Maslow at Work (2016) !

Each stage of the ‘Maslow at Work’ model is defined in terms of how the leader can address specific needs and create work teams in a way that anticipates and caters to the needs of team members.

Conducive Workplace

The leader must ensure, to the extent possible, the physical work environment is psychologically conducive to working.  All the senses are active in determining our psychological reaction to our workspace.  This includes the obvious physiological elements of comfort, (such as temperature, natural lighting, etc.), but also psychological elements, (such as the arrangement of team members within the workspace to maximize convenience of communication).

Safe Culture

The leader must set a behaviour standard that is respectful of every team member’s need to feel safe. Teams possess their own unique culture, defined by the behaviours that are deemed acceptable and by the behaviors that are expected within the group.  The leader is both the owner and the enforcer for team member behavior.  Feeling emotionally safe within the team is a prerequisite for trust as well as the remainder of the model.

Sense of Team

To create a team and teamwork, the leader must define the team in such a way that each team member is interdependently linked to the roles, responsibilities, work and output of the other team members.  Success must also be redefined such that team contribution and team achievement is valued far above individual contributions and achievements. It is by working interdependently, by being a contributor, that team members obtain a sense of belonging – a sense of team.

Sense of Worth

A team member’s sense of worth is greatly impacted by external, positive reinforcement of their contributions.  It is imperative that the leader express appreciation and recognition to both the team as a whole and individual team members regularly.  The reason it is so important that praise come from the leader is that the leader holds the unique position of representing the organization, while also having a personal relationship with the team members.  This allows the leader to provide specific, meaningful and authentic praise on behalf of the organization.  If the leader doesn’t provide the team with praise, there is a high likelihood they will receive none at all.

Sense of Purpose

Intrinsic motivation (self-motivation) is associated with personal passion and is developed through personal connection with a cause greater than one’s self. The leader’s role is to clearly and frequently establish how the work of the team and the organization fulfill a greater purpose for society.  It is then up to each team member to compare and connect with their own values and ambitions.  Where leaders encourage and empower their team members, passion and a sense of purpose follow.

As always, I am most interested in your comments and feedback!

Robert Ferguson

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