An update on Maslow’s hierarchy need theory is long overdue. In 1961, David McCelland proposed a Three Needs Theory: achievement, affiliation, power. People will have different characteristics depending on their dominant motivator.
|Dominant Motivator||Characteristics of This Person|
|Achievement||Has a strong need to set and accomplish challenging goals. Takes calculated risks to accomplish their goals.Likes to receive regular feedback on their progress and achievements.Often likes to work alone.|
|Affiliation||Wants to belong to the group.Wants to be liked, and will often go along with whatever the rest of the group wants to do.Favors collaboration over competition.Doesn’t like high risk or uncertainty.|
|Power||Wants to control and influence others.Likes to win arguments.Enjoys competition and winning.Enjoys status and recognition.|
The problem for McCelland’s theory is that human’s need is never a clear cut and may evolve over time.
Alternatively, Sirota’s 3-factor theory of human motivation in the workplace is more persuasive to answer this question: So have you seen people begin new jobs with lots of enthusiasm, ready to start contributing, but then watched as they’ve steadily lost that motivation?
The three factors, which together build enthusiasm, are as follows:
- Equity/Fairness – People want to be treated fairly at work.
- Achievement – People want to do important, useful work, and be recognized for this.
- Camaraderie – People want to enjoy good relationships with their co-workers.
According to Sirota, to ensure that your organization demonstrates equity, you need to address all three fairness elements:
Ensure the physical safety of workers.
- Create safe working conditions.
- Establish expectations that give your staff a reasonable work/life balance.
- Make sure you meet all workplace safety requirements.
- Provide safety training on a regular basis.
Provide a reasonable level of job security.
- Consider all possible alternatives before laying off workers.
- Ask for voluntary layoffs when a layoff is inevitable.
- Communicate openly and honestly about the layoff.
- Provide outplacement and financial support for staff who have lost their jobs.
- Maintain the fairness needs of the workers who remain.
Provide fair compensation.
- Pay competitive wages, and keep up with inflation.
- Include some variable pay (bonuses) for performance.
- Allow workers to share in company success through stock ownership or other profit-sharing programs
Sirota’s theory is strong on compensation. He doesn’t believe (as some others do) that money is low on the list of motivating factors. His theory says that pay represents respect and achievement, not just the ability to purchase life’s necessities.
Create an environment of respect.
- Treat all staff similarly, regardless of how much power they have.
- Use power fairly.
- Minimize status distinctions in the workplace – for example, by avoiding separate parking lots or eating areas.
- Provide sufficient and appropriate autonomy and independent work.
- Pay attention to what staff say they want and need. (Management By Wandering Around is an effective way to stay in touch with workers’ needs.)
- Provide positive feedback and recognition.
- Show interest in workers, and insist on common courtesy.
Factor Two: Achievement
People want to be proud of their work, and they want their achievements to be acknowledged. They also want to feel proud of what the organization as a whole achieves.
Sirota asked workers questions about the amount and type of feedback they received, how participative their work environment was, whether adequate resources were provided, and how proud they were of their company.
To help people feel this sense of achievement, an organization needs to do four things:
1. Provide an enabling work environment
Give people what they need to do the job well.
- Use teams effectively.
- Use participative leadership practices.
- Make the organization as flat as possible-in other words, eliminate bureaucracy and hierarchy where you sensibly can.
- Delegate effectively, and avoid micromanagement .
2. Provide challenging work
Allow people to do interesting work that uses their skills and abilities.
- Hire people based on fit.
- Design jobs for enrichment and satisfaction.
- Communicate how each job contributes to the company as a whole.
- Provide training, and opportunities for people to learn new skills.
3. Use feedback, recognition, and reward
Let people know how they’re doing.
- Communicate clear expectations.
- Establish and agree on priorities.
- Use tangible rewards to acknowledge achievement.
- Balance criticism with plenty of praise.
- Promote from within where possible.
Read more about giving feedback .
4. Be an organization of purpose and principles
People want to work for trustworthy companies that they can be proud of.
- Create a vision that can make workers proud.
- Communicate the principles of the company.
- “Walk the talk.”
- Adopt and apply ethical leadership .
- Provide a quality product or service, and use quality management practices.
Factor Three: Camaraderie
When people go to work, they want to enjoy themselves. That makes interpersonal relationships very important. A culture that supports and encourages cooperation, communication, friendliness, acceptance, and teamwork is critical for maintaining enthusiasm. As such, partnership needs to be an important part of company culture.
Workers want to feel a sense of community and teamwork.
- Make “people skills” a priority. Demonstrate empathy, consideration, and respect – and expect the same from every worker.
- Encourage interactions, and provide social opportunities.
- Reward positive team behaviors.
- Encourage cross-functional interaction and teamwork.
- Review department mandates and practices regularly to ensure consistency in the approach and message.
- Use team charters to develop ground rules.
- Use collaborative conflict resolution and win-win negotiation techniques to resolve differences.
By creating an environment that addresses all three factors for enthusiasm, you can better ensure high worker satisfaction, motivation, and productivity. However, these factors are not independent of one another: You can’t ignore compensation needs and expect to make up for it with increased camaraderie. Likewise, you can’t allow a manager to treat her staff poorly, even though you provide high achievement elements.
Copyright © 2005. David Sirota, Louis A. Mischkind & Micaehl I. Meltzer “The Enthusiastic Employee: How Companies Profit by Giving Workers What They Want”. Terms reprinted by permission of Pearson Education Inc, New York.
One of Sirota’s findings is that the equity elements are most fundamental, and you must address them before adding other enthusiasm factors.