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Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Describe Maslow's Theory of Motivation - Hierarchy of Needs

The basis of Maslow's motivation theory is that human beings are motivated by unsatisfied needs, and that certain lower factors need to be satisfied before higher needs can be satisfied. According to Maslow, there are general types of needs (physiological, survival, safety, love, and esteem) that must be satisfied before a person can act unselfishly. He called these needs "deficiency needs."
As long as we are motivated to satisfy these cravings, we are moving towards growth, toward self-actualization. Satisfying needs is healthy, while preventing gratification makes us sick or act evilly.
As a result, for adequate workplace motivation, it is important that leadership understands the active needs active for individual employee motivation. In this manner, Maslow's model indicates that fundamental, lower-order needs like safety and physiological requirements have to be satisfied in order to pursue higher-level motivators along the lines of self-fulfillment. As depicted in the following hierarchical diagram, sometimes called 'Maslow's Needs Pyramid' or 'Maslow's Needs Triangle', after a need is satisfied it stops acting as a motivator and the next need one rank higher starts to motivate.
Self-actualization is the summit of Maslow's motivation theory. It is about the quest of reaching one's full potential as a person. Unlike lower level needs, this need is never fully satisfied; as one grows psychologically there are always new opportunities to continue to grow.
Self-actualized people tend to have motivators such as:
* Truth
* Justice
* Wisdom
* Meaning
Self-actualized persons have frequent occurrences of peak experiences, which are energized moments of profound happiness and harmony. According to Maslow, only a small percentage of the population reaches the level of self-actualization.
[“What a man can be, he must be.” This forms the basis of the perceived need for self-actualization. This level of need pertains to what a person's full potential is and realizing that potential. Maslow describes this desire as the desire to become more and more what one is, to become everything that one is capable of becoming. This is a broad definition of the need for self-actualization, but when applied to individuals the need is specific. For example one individual may have the strong desire to become an ideal parent, in another it may be expressed athletically, and in another it may be expressed in painting, pictures, or inventions. As mentioned before, in order to reach a clear understanding of this level of need one must first not only achieve the previous needs, physiological, safety, love, and esteem, but master these needs. Below are Maslow’s descriptions of a self-actualized person’s different needs and personality traits.
Maslow also states that even though these are examples of how the quest for knowledge is separate from basic needs he warns that these “two hierarchies are interrelated rather than sharply separated” (Maslow 97). This means that this level of need, as well as the next and highest level, are not strict, separate levels but closely related to others, and this is possibly the reason that these two levels of need are left out of most textbooks.]
Esteem Needs
After a person feels that they "belong", the urge to attain a degree of importance emerges. Esteem needs can be categorized as external motivators and internal motivators.
Internally motivating esteem needs are those such as self-esteem, accomplishment, and self respect. External esteem needs are those such as reputation and recognition.
Some examples of esteem needs are:
* Recognition (external motivator)
* Attention (external motivator)
* Social Status (external motivator)
* Accomplishment (internal motivator)
* Self-respect (internal motivator)
Maslow later improved his model to add a layer in between self-actualization and esteem needs: the need for aesthetics and knowledge.
[All humans have a need to be respected and to have self-esteem and self-respect. Also known as the belonging need, esteem presents the normal human desire to be accepted and valued by others. People need to engage themselves to gain recognition and have an activity or activities that give the person a sense of contribution, to feel accepted and self-valued, be it in a profession or hobby. Imbalances at this level can result in low self-esteem or an inferiority complex. People with low self-esteem need respect from others. They may seek fame or glory, which again depends on others. Note, however, that many people with low self-esteem will not be able to improve their view of themselves simply by receiving fame, respect, and glory externally, but must first accept themselves internally. Psychological imbalances such as depression can also prevent one from obtaining self-esteem on both levels.
Most people have a need for a stable self-respect and self-esteem. Maslow noted two versions of esteem needs, a lower one and a higher one. The lower one is the need for the respect of others, the need for status, recognition, fame, prestige, and attention. The higher one is the need for self-respect, the need for strength, competence, mastery, self-confidence, independence and freedom. The latter one ranks higher because it rests more on inner competence won through experience. Deprivation of these needs can lead to an inferiority complex, weakness and helplessness.]
Once a person has met the lower level physiological and safety needs, higher level motivators awaken. The first level of higher level needs are social needs. Social needs are those related to interaction with others and may include:
* Friendship
* Belonging to a group
* Giving and receiving love
[After physiological and safety needs are fulfilled, the third layer of human needs are social and involve feelings of belongingness. This aspect of Maslow's hierarchy involves emotionally based relationships in general, such as:
* Friendship
* Intimacy
* Family
Humans need to feel a sense of belonging and acceptance, whether it comes from a large social group, such as clubs, office culture, religious groups, professional organizations, sports teams, gangs, or small social connections (family members, intimate partners, mentors, close colleagues, confidants). They need to love and be loved (sexually and non-sexually) by others. In the absence of these elements, many people become susceptible to loneliness, social anxiety, and clinical depression. This need for belonging can often overcome the physiological and security needs, depending on the strength of the peer pressure; an anorexic, for example, may ignore the need to eat and the security of health for a feeling of control and belonging.]
Safety Needs
Once physiological needs are met, one's attention turns to safety and security in order to be free from the threat of physical and emotional harm. Such needs might be fulfilled by:
* Living in a safe area
* Medical insurance
* Job security
* Financial reserves
According to the Maslow hierarchy, if a person feels threatened, needs further up the pyramid will not receive attention until that need has been resolved.
[With their physical needs relatively satisfied, the individual's safety needs take precedence and dominate behavior. These needs have to do with people's yearning for a predictable orderly world in which perceived unfairness and inconsistency are under control, the familiar frequent and the unfamiliar rare. In the world of work, these safety needs manifest themselves in such things as a preference for job security, grievance procedures for protecting the individual from unilateral authority, savings accounts, insurance policies, reasonable disability accommodations, and the like.
Safety and Security needs include:
* Personal security
* Financial security
* Health and well-being
* Safety net against accidents/illness and their adverse impacts]
Physiological Needs
Physiological needs are those required to sustain life, such as:
* Air
* Water
* Food
* Sleep
According to this theory, if these fundamental needs are not satisfied then one will surely be motivated to satisfy them. Higher needs such as social needs and esteem are not recognized until one satisfies the needs basic to existence.
[For the most part, physiological needs are obvious — they are the literal requirements for human survival. If these requirements are not met, the human body simply cannot continue to function. Air, water, and food are metabolic requirements for survival in all animals, including humans. Clothing and shelter provide necessary protection from the elements. The intensity of the human sexual instinct is shaped more by sexual competition than maintaining a birth rate adequate to survival of the species.]
Applying Maslow's Needs Hierarchy - Business Management Implications
If Maslow's theory is true, there are some very important leadership implications to enhance workplace motivation. There are staff motivation opportunities by motivating each employee through their style of management, compensation plans, role definition, and company activities.
* Physiological Motivation: Provide ample breaks for lunch and recuperation and pay salaries that allow workers to buy life's essentials.
* Safety Needs: Provide a working environment which is safe, relative job security, and freedom from threats.
* Social Needs: Generate a feeling of acceptance, belonging, and community by reinforcing team dynamics.
* Esteem Motivators: Recognize achievements, assign important projects, and provide status to make employees feel valued and appreciated.
* Self-Actualization: Offer challenging and meaningful work assignments which enable innovation, creativity, and progress according to long-term goals.
Remember, everyone is not motivated by same needs. At various points in their lives and careers, various employees will be motivated by completely different needs. It is imperative that you recognize each employee's needs currently being pursued. In order to motivate their employees, leadership must be understand the current level of needs at which the employee finds themselves, and leverage needs for workplace motivation.

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