We all are about needs: A need can move us (motivate us), or prevent us from doing something.
Management theory definitively considers the “Need” topic seriously. Especially when we talk about what motivates us and what makes us more productive.
[I have to insert a note here. There is a fine line between management and psychology. Companies’ success depends a lot on human motivations and social relations. It just becomes natural to have a lot of psychology infiltrated in the management world. I won’t duel a lot on that side (although it is almost unavoidable). Let’s just say that a manager with a lot of technical common sense will not be able to get things done without some people common sense.]
Ok. As I was saying, there is a whole wealth of theory about what motivates us. Abraham Maslow, who introduced the hierarchy of needs in 1943, is the person to remember here. Below I show his hierarchy of needs (factoid: Maslow didn’t use a pyramid to present his hierarchy, if someone knows who displayed it that way first, please let me know).
Image was created by Let’s talk business. Content source: Richard Bird, et al. (2006). Business the Ultimate Resource. Ed. Basic Books
The question is: Do we need to satisfy the lower needs to satisfy the higher ones? The generally accepted answer is: No. Some people can sacrifice the full satisfaction of a lower need to achieve a higher need (for example, the artist that eats beans and bread because he/she prefers to buy his materials to “actualize” himself). In my opinion, we do need to satisfy the lower levels first. The main difference lies on “how much” of each satisfier each individual needs to be satisfied.
There have been many other contributors to motivation theory, some of them contemporary to Maslow. Herzberg is another thinker on the need issue. His model focuses on the workplace (employee satisfaction). He classified the needs in two categories:
- Lowe level needs (the basics)
- Higher level needs (those that are more appropriate to the psychologically complex human being)
Herzberg said that both needs have to be satisfied in the workplace. He also believed that satisfaction depended upon two kinds of factors: Hygienic factors and motivator factors [I wonder why he used the word “hygienic”… it sounds so… unoriginal, maybe in the 50s it was not important to have cool fancy theory names, the name definitively describes his thought and probably the conditions of the time, but it is still so…arg!). Anyway, the hygienic factors have to do with the context and environment where the work takes place (workplace set up, rules, supervision, status, security, pay). The motivator factors relate to what a person does at work or gets from the work itself (achievement, recognition, responsibility, advancement, growth). Having excellent hygienic conditions is the first step to avoid dissatisfaction, however, it doesn’t necessarily bring satisfaction. The motivators, on the counterpart, can bring satisfaction as they are personal.
Yep, needs, needs, needs.. on my side I now need to take a break. What kind of need would that be? I guess it fits into the psychological need category. Maybe I can create a new classification: It is part of my change of activity needs. Yep, you got it right, models are nice, however, we humans are still quite complex… and, of course, needy.
Source: Richard Bird, et al. (2006). Business the Ultimate Resource. Ed. Basic Books