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Motivating People - Recognising Needs


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Since the 1940s research into human behaviour has suggested that people are motivated by a number of different needs, at work and in their personal life. Recognising and satisfying these needs will help you to get the best from people.

Several motivation theories work on the assumption that given the chance and the right stimuli, people work well and positively. As a manager, be aware of what these stimuli or "motivational forces" are. Theorist Abraham Maslow grouped them into five areas. The first is physiological needs, and these are followed by further needs, classed as "safety", "social"", "esteem" and "self-actualisation". According to Maslow, the needs are tackled in order: as you draw near to satisfying one, the priority of the next one becomes higher. Also, once a need has been satisfied, it is no longer a stimulus.

The Maslow Hierarchy:

Abraham Maslow believed that satisfying just physiological and safety needs is not enough to motivate a person fully. Once these needs have been appeased, there are others waiting to take their place. The Maslow hierarchy can be applied to every aspect of life and the more ambitious and satisfied the personality, the greater the potential contribution to the organisation. Below is an outline of Maslow's hierarchy of needs - we all start at the bottom of this list and attempt to work our way up.

* Self-Actualisation - realising individual potential; winning; achieving

* Esteem Needs - Being well regarded by other people; appreciation

* Social Needs - Interaction with other people; having friends

* Safety Needs - A sense of security; absence of fear

* Physiological Needs - Warmth; shelter; food; sex - a human being's "animal" needs

Meeting the Needs at Work:

The Maslow hierarchy is particularly relevant in the workplace because individuals do not need just money and rewards, but also respect and interaction. When designing jobs, working conditions, and organisational structures, bear in mind the full range of needs in the Maslow hierarchy. Doing this will cost no more, but it will undoubtedly generate higher psychological and economic rewards all round.

Individuals acting as part of a group have needs that differ from those of the group. However, it is important for individuals to feel they belong. Find a way to balance the needs of the group with those of individuals. For example, tell staff that if the group meets its major objectives, you may be able to satisfy individual requirements. Do not, of course, promise what you cannot deliver.

Motivation Outside the Workforce:

One of the areas in which individuals tend to satisfy their motivational needs outside work is sports activities. It is interesting to note the effort that people put into such endeavours, for which they are unlikely to gain material reward. Try to motivate your staff to apply as much effort in the workplace as they would in a team sports event by making work as much fun as possible. A shrewd motivational strategy is to encourage your staff to take up team activities outside the workplace in order to improve their teamwork skills.

Satisfying Basic Needs:

Psychologist Frederick Herzberg developed a "two-factor" theory of motivation based on "motivators" and "hygiene factors". Hygiene factors - basic human needs at work - do not motivate but failure to meet them causes dissatisfaction. These factors can be as seemingly trivial as parking space or as vital as sufficient holiday time, but the most important hygiene factor is finance. A manager should try to fulfil staff members' financial needs. People require certain pay levels to meet their needs, and slow income progression and ineffective incentives quickly demotivated. Fear about lack of security in a job also greatly demotivates staff.

Points to Remember:

* The effects of getting hygiene factors right are only temporary

* The results of getting hygiene factors wrong can cause long-lasting problems

* The more choice people can exercise over both hygiene factors and motivators, the better motivated they will be

* Job insecurity undermines motivation at all levels

* Recognising good work is as important as rewarding it

Ensuring Motivation:

The second of Herzberg's two factors is a set of "motivators" that actually drive people to achieve. These are what a manager should aim to provide in order to maintain a satisfied workforce. How much a person enjoys achievement depends purely on its recognition. The ability to achieve, in turn, rests on having an enjoyable job and responsibility. The greater that responsibility, the more the individual can feel the satisfaction of advancement. Motivators are built around obtaining growth and "self-actualisation" from tasks. You can raise motivation in your staff by increasing their responsibility, thereby "enriching" their jobs.

Heightening Workplace Motivation:

Achievement: Reaching or exceeding task objectives is particularly important because the "onwards-and-upwards" urge to achieve is a basic human drive. It is one of the most powerful motivators and a great source of satisfaction.

Recognition: The acknowledgment of achievements by senior staff members is motivational because it helps to enhance self-esteem. For many staff members, recognition may be viewed as a reward in itself.

Job Interest: A job that provides positive, satisfying pleasure to individuals and groups will be a greater motivational force than a job that does not sustain interest. As far as possible, responsibilities should be matched to individuals' interests.

Responsibility: The opportunity to exercise authority and power may demand leadership skills, risk-taking, decision-making and self-direction, all of which raise self-esteem and are strong motivators.

Advancement: Promotion, progress and rising rewards for achievement are important here. Possibly the main motivator, however, is the feeling that advancement is possible. Be honest about promotion prospects and the likely timescale involved.

About the Author

Daniel Gibbins is a Managing Director for a Norfolk based Web Development Company, covering Web Design, SEO, Hosting and Copywriting services. He has Qualified Teacher Status in the UK and is registered member of the General Teaching Council of England. He holds advanced qualifications and degrees in English Literature & Language, Computer Science and History.

Daniel has experience in Audit, Retail, Customer Service and Busienss Operations.

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Article Published/Sorted/Amended on Scopulus 2007-04-29 12:35:12 in Employee Articles

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