Whether it’s investors, clients, or employees, we all need to motivate others.
Let’s go all old-school on the problem of motivating employees. How about we apply Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs? This table is oriented to employees but applies to a variety of people.
|Self-Actualization – curiosity, creativity, challenge||Professionally challenging and satisfying work assignments
Company commitment to employees – investment in them – investment in improvement – investment in facilities – investment in technology
“Time to Think”
Satisfaction with the environment
Advancements from within – promote for the right reasons – career planning
Delegate responsibility, authority, and accountability
Recognition and rewards
Teamwork – cooperation and collaboration
Strong but sensitive leadership – supportive; provides guidance and direction; listens to employees
Opportunities to build relationships with colleagues
Deals with inter-employee conflict; deals with inter-organization conflict
Respectful behavior – positive feedback – fair discipline
Communications: top-down; bottom-up; and colleague-to-colleague; listening
Clarity of expectations
Appropriate workload (amount) – Distribution of work tasks
Entire leadership team portrays a positive image of the organization – “advocacy”
Lots of work – “Job security” – Company financial health – planning
Eliminate safety concerns as a priority
Competitive salary and benefits
Employment not directly threatened
|Esteem – social status, self-respect|
|Belongingness and Love – inclusion, acceptance, friendship|
|Safety – security, stability, protection|
|Physiological – food, water, air, physical comfort|
One of the fundamental concepts of Maslow is that one must meet the needs at the bottom before proceeding upward. So, meet the physiological needs before the safety needs before the belongingness and love needs, etc.
Some leaders think that it’s good to motivate creativity and innovation (Self-Actualization Needs) while constantly threatening people’s employment. Clearly, they want the people at the top of the pyramid but are driving them to the bottom. That will never work.
A good plan for motivating employees is to address the needs at the bottom of the pyramid first. So, a plan might look like:
- Pay employees in a competitive manner, commensurate with contributions.
- Make sure that they know there’s work to do – today and for the foreseeable future. Teach and inform them about the health of the business.
- Keep people informed about and involved in the business.
- Let colleagues work together in teams. Help them to do so.
- Recognize good work and contributions to the operations and growth of the business.
- Give people professionally challenging work and truly empower them to do it.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Mr. Czerniak retired after a successful career that culminated in fifteen years of experience as an internal consultant and “change agent.” He is currently an Expert-in-Residence at the Macomb-Oakland University Incubator, a volunteer with the Troy Historic Village and Historical Society and a volunteer with the Michigan Floral Association.