Thursday, April 24, 2008

Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs

Motivation is a very personal topic. What motivates one person does not necessarily motivate another person. As a supervisor or a manager, it is incumbent on you to determine what motivates each and every none of your employees. There are instruments available on the market which can help, but the best way to figure out what your employees find motivating is to talk to them.

One of you most important duties as a manager is to find new ways to continually motivate your people. Motivation is at the heart of being a supervisor. Keep in mind that in addition to different people having different motivational needs and wants, these needs and wants change depending on the situation.
Developing an open relationship with your employees where you can come to understand their personal preferences is the best method for consistently setting up situations in which your people can continually develop and grow.

1. Know the Basis of Maslow’s Theory
Nobody can motivate another person to perform a given task. What is possible, however, is to create the circumstances and environment where the employee will be satisfied given the situation and incentives provided. Maslow believed that a person’s needs are the most important factor in determining motivation, the priorities assigned to a task, and the behaviors exhibited.. Maslow’s theory separated needs in to distinct levels, which he categorized in to five groups.. Malslow states that for a person to be motivated to move up in the pyramid, he or she must first satisfy (at least partially) the lower level of needs.

2. Maslow’s Hierarchy
The first level of Survival. These are the basic needs for life, such as food, shelter, and a place to sleep. The second level is Security. These needs include safety from harm, the avoidance of pain and the needs to establish some sort of order in one’s life. The third level is Social. These needs are more interpersonal and include such things as the need to establish friendships, interaction with others, and the needs for affection. The fourth level is Self-Esteem. These needs include the need for special recognition, achievement, power, and rewards. The fifth level is Self-Actualization. These are the highest level needs and are the most difficult to satisfy since they include the need for increased challenge and growth, and the idea that a person has achieved the pinnacle; a long sought after goal.

3. Putting Maslow’s Theory Into Perspective
Since all the employees you supervise are currently employed, they have probably satisfied their survival needs, and possibly their security needs. You should focus your motivational efforts at setting up the environment so your people can achieve theory social and self-esteem needs. Most employees in studies conducted about motivation rated recognition or praise the highest (in terms of what they desire from their supervisor).

Motivational Tools

A. Positive Reinforcement
A good way to reinforce the desired behavior is to reward it immediately following the event. This reward can take the form of verbal praise, not necessarily monetary rewards. Using rewards reinforces the individual seeking the need for self-esteem since praise and recognition for positive work performance help to satisfy the need.
Using positive reinforcement is the best way to institute long-term behavioral changes in an employee. When you use punishment and ignoring, you are not reinforcing the behavior you are looking to promote in the employee. There will be situations when you need to and should use these two techniques, but you need to also use positive reinforcement when the employee engages in the desired behavior.

B. Punishment
This technique prevents an employee from satisfying his or her needs. For example, is an employee is continually late meeting deadlines, you may decide to take him off a task he enjoys participating in. When negative behavior is followed by consequences, this can cause the behavior to cease.

C. Ignoring
This technique can be used when behavior deserves neither positive reinforcement nor punishment. For example, an employee who makes it to work on time every day or completes an administrative task on time may not be deserving of special recognition.

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