As a Project Manager, you understand the importance of team motivation and the impact it has on project results.
Using Abraham Maslow’s theory, we’ll look at how needs direct human behavior and identify some techniques based on the theory that you can use in your projects.
What is Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs?
Abraham Maslow is well renowned for proposing the Hierarchy of Needs Theory in 1943. This theory is a classical depiction of human motivation. This theory is based on the assumption that there is a hierarchy of five needs within each individual. The urgency of these needs varies. These five needs are as follows-
Physiological needs are those needs required for human survival such as air, food, water, shelter, clothing and sleep. As a manager, you can account for physiological needs of your employees by providing comfortable working conditions, reasonable work hours and the necessary breaks to use the bathroom and eat and/or drink.
Safety needs- Safety needs include physical, environmental and emotional safety and protection. For instance- Job security, financial security, protection from animals, family security, health security, etc.
Social needs, also called love and belonging, refer to the need to feel a sense of belonging and acceptance. Social needs are important to humans so that they do not feel alone, isolated and depressed. Friendships, family and intimacy all work to fulfill social needs. As a manager, you can account for the social needs of your employees by making sure each of your employees know one another, encouraging cooperative teamwork, being an accessible and kind supervisor and promoting a good work-life balance.
Esteem needs- Esteem needs are of two types: internal esteem needs (self- respect, confidence, competence, achievement and freedom) and external esteem needs (recognition, power, status, attention and admiration).
Self-actualization need- This include the urge to become what you are capable of becoming / what you have the potential to become. It includes the need for growth and self-contentment. It also includes desire for gaining more knowledge, social- service, creativity and being aesthetic. The self- actualization needs are never fully satiable. As an individual grows psychologically, opportunities keep cropping up to continue growing.
Employee Motivation Techniques Using the Maslow Pyramid
Now that you are aware of the theory, the way to apply it is to try to have the members of your team working at the highest level. Knowing your team members as individuals and working to understand their specific needs will help you identify what actions are needed on your part to keep them motivated.
When building your team, try to make sure that lower level needs are met. When you encounter a motivational issue, try to find out if there are lower level needs that are not being met, and take steps to meet them if possible.
Here are some employee motivation techniques for you to try that use Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs as a framework…
- Provide input for employee salaries and bonuses.
- Ensure the correct tools for the job are available.
- Create an environment where individuals are comfortable challenging requests that are dangerous.
- Schedule weekly project team meetings.
- Get the team together to celebrate project milestones.
- Recognize team members for excellent contributions to the project.
- Ensure each team member understands how important they are to the project.
- Take into account each team members professional goals when assigning tasks.
- Empower team members so that they can develop and grow.
A person’s behavior can focus on more than one need. For example, one of your team members may be actively seeking promotion because it will lead to a higher salary (physiological need). But the promotion can also satisfy esteem and self-actualization needs. Even though the needs are described as hierarchical, application of the theory isn’t as rigid.
The Maslow Theory of Motivation is a great tool for Project Managers to understand and use. It can help you keep your team motivated as well as correct motivational issues.