Monday, August 6, 2007

Motivation: An important step

How do you motivate people? This was the shocking question my brother asked during our last family gathering. Shocking only because we were eating dinner. To be quite honest, I get this question all time during my leadership seminars. Leaders are constantly trying to uncover the steps necessary to motivate their team or a team member. No leader can make great achievements alone.

In my opinion, one important step is to realize that a cookie cutter approach will not work with motivation. People are different and so are their needs. Just ask the mother who only works overtime when her children wants that new video game or a big birthday bash. Different strokes for different folks. It's up to leaders to identify what motivates their team.

In the 1940’s, Psychologist Abraham Maslow proposed a hierarchy of needs theory. He believed that individuals have different needs to satisfy in their work. Maslow categorized these needs in five levels: Physiological needs, Safety needs, Social needs, Esteem needs and Self-actualization needs. To help illustrate his theory, Maslow arranged the needs in a pyramid format in the order of their importance. The lower-level needs (Physiological) are the foundation of the pyramid. According Maslow, food, shelter, and sexual satisfaction are “physiological needs, which are necessary for survival” (Maslow,Wikipedia).

As I told my brother, and those who attend my seminars, reading Maslow’s theory provides a great foundation to understanding motivation and people. I also say that there are other theories to read -- don't stop with Maslow's Theory.

If you want a quick read on motivating others, check out a book in the popular 10 Minute guide series, 10 Minute Guide to Motivating People. I keep a copy of this on my desk.

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