Motivating others

144Today we review some leadership and motivational theories including Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs and Adair’s Action Centred Leadership. Motivation is an important part of an executive’s job and understanding what motivates people is the first step.

We discussed Team Leadership in previous lessons.

This link will take you to a page that considers some leadership theories and models, leadership philosophies and leadership styles. It also covers motivation, discussing Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs and Adair’s Action Centred Leadership.

As a manager and leader one important aspect of your work is to motivate your team. Some people are motivated to work because they love their job and feel they are doing something useful, others do it simply because they need the money it brings them.

In some cases motivating staff is easier than others. For example if you have interesting work to offer and can develop your team, then it is not too difficult to provide motivation and keep employees engaged. On the other hand if you are managing a team that is responsible for repetitive tasks such as cleaning or running a production line, where work is boring, then this is much more of a challenge.

Here some ideas to motivate people include;-

  • Make tasks as interesting as possible, maybe include several elements of the task
  • Rotate tasks so staff are not doing the same thing all day every day
  • Set goals
  • Offer rewards

Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs model was developed in 1940-50s, but is still valid for understanding human motivation and personal development, and is used for management training, Maslow says that employers are responsible for providing a workplace environment that enables employees to fulfil their potential.

He says that people have levels of need which have to be satisfied in order, starting from the bottom with Biological basic needs and moving up towards Self-actualisation.
The model illustrates that we are motivated by meeting these needs, and need to satisfy each level of need one at a time, beginning with the need for survival itself. Once the basic needs of physical and emotional well-being are met, we turn our attention to higher order needs of influence and personal development.

Conversely, and importantly, if the basic needs are not met, we are not motivated by the higher order needs.

In Maslow’s hierarchy the needs include;-

  1. Biological and Physiological needs – such as food and drink, shelter and warmth
  2. Safety needs – such as protection from the elements, security, law and order
  3. Social, Belongingness and Love needs – such as work and family groups, affection and relationships.
  4. Esteem needs – such as self-esteem and achievement, status and prestige such as managerial responsibility
  5. Self-Actualization needs – such as realising personal potential, seeking personal growth

Some examples of how this works are;-

  • An employee will not be motivated by a better office (level 4) when their basic salary is not enough to pay the family bills (level 1)
  • A team member is unlikely to achieve a performance target (level 4) when they’re experiencing personal problems (level 3).
  • An employee will not be an effective team member (level 3) when they have lost their home because they didn’t meet mortgage payments (level 2).

Maslow’s theory is a useful model to help us understand, explain and manage human behaviour. It proposes that that once a need is met, a person moves to the next level, and this is often the case, although analysing people and motivation is a complex task. Everyone is different and has different motivations

So while it provides a simple illustration of how people move up or down the Hierarchy depending on their situation, most people’s motivation at a point in time will include components of all of the motivational drivers.

Some examples of how this works are;-

  • Some who is a self-actualizer (level 5) is still motivated to eat (level 1) and develop relationships (level 3).
  • Someone who is homeless will mainly concentrate on finding food (level 1) and shelter (level 2) but may also be motivated by social interactions (level 3) and their friends perception of them (level 4).

Maslow’s theories illustrate the challenge employer’s face to provide meaning and purpose to their employee’s lives. He shows that the most junior employees have basic human needs as well as the right to aim for self-actualisation, in just the same way as do the company directors and owners.

Today, Companies who value their employees and aim to attract the very best and keep them, tend to encourage personal growth towards self-actualisation They demonstrate commitment to helping their employees identify, pursue and reach their potential, enabling them to become more effective and valuable employees. They know that personal growth produces new skills and attributes that can drive the company success.