The Consultant's Desk

The Consultant's Desk
Poring over the details on your behalf

Monday, June 29, 2015

Maslow and Retention Strategies

Abraham Maslow introduced his hierarchy of needs circa 1940s. The validity of his theory took hold and has grown in the scope of dynamics it covers. The chart can be found in quite a number of places on the Web.

Tim Vandevall's printable version comes in both color and black and white. Some of you may be interested in something that's a little more straightforward in presentation. In that case, consider one of these versions.

The theory is explained in more detail on other sites. However, one thing becomes very apparent as each level is examined: the principles can be applied to essentially any type of organization or social unit.

What characteristics does a person who is self actualized exhibit? You know, the more I read and re-read McLeod's discussion of those 15 traits, the more I realize there are many people who have them. Unfortunately, they tend to be free spirits in relation to where they go and the people with whom they associate and interact. Many are labelled as crazy or odd while others are simply called fun. The label that's applied has many aspects for its interpretation. And many times the insecurity of the one doing the labeling plays into that. If the one doing the labeling carries some amount of authority, others will do little to make their own, independent evaluation and will simply rely on the faulty characterization.

Wikipedia traces even more of the theory, its challenges, and its expansion to seven tiers. In the 1960s and '70s, an eighth tier was added wherein a person who has reached a certain level of their own actualization turns to others in order to help them in their growth and fulfillment. It's a bit like paying it forward by becoming the teacher or mentor.

Still, the level at which we approach self actualization is what workers strive to achieve when they become employed for an organization. They want to be respected; they want to feel as though they are genuinely growing in their knowledge and abilities. They want to feel their talents are growing and they are serving the needs of customers and colleagues. It's like engagement but it's also more than mere engagement. It begins to pay in value because of loyalty - customer and employee - and referrals. It becomes expansive because the reach grows as the organization's reputation does so. It's a healthy place to be.

So I ask you who are managers, governing executives, HR professionals: What are you doing to create an environment that feeds the eight levels of needs? What are you doing to retain your valued workforce? As you map your designs for growth, you want to find yourself providing more than the basics and survival needs. It would be good to supersede the belonging level and start banging your head at versions past esteem. Perhaps qualifying for that growth entails having your people outline not only their plans for self actualization but also how to achieve it economically and so that the costs can be recouped in some way.

And now I turn to those who are employees or job seekers. As you do your research about a company, are you keeping Maslow's hierarchy in mind when it comes to finding an employer who can fulfill at least most of your needs and desires?

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