Down with Maslow

By Susan Fowler via hbr.org   Article

What Maslow’s Hierarchy Won’t Tell You About Motivation

“Maslow’s idea that people are motivated by satisfying lower-level needs such as food, water, shelter, and security, before they can move on to being motivated by higher-level needs such as self-actualization, is the most well-known motivation theory in the world. …

Despite the popularity of Maslow’s Hierarchy, there is not much recent data to support it. Contemporary science — specifically Dr. Edward Deci, hundreds of Self-Determination Theory researchers, and thousands of studies — instead points to three universal psychological needs. If you really want to advantage of this new science – rather than focusing on a pyramid of needs – you should focus on: autonomy, relatedness, and competence.

Autonomy is people’s need to perceive that they have choices, that what they are doing is of their own volition, and that they are the source of their own actions. The way leaders frame information and situations either promotes the likelihood that a person will perceive autonomy or undermines it. To promote autonomy: …

Relatedness is people’s need to care about and be cared about by others, to feel connected to others without concerns about ulterior motives, and to feel that they are contributing to something greater than themselves. Leaders have a great opportunity to help people derive meaning from their work. To deepen relatedness: …

Competence is people’s need to feel effective at meeting every-day challenges and opportunities, demonstrating skill over time, and feeling a sense of growth and flourishing. Leaders can rekindle people’s desire to grow and learn. To develop people’s competence: …

Unlike Maslow’s needs, these three basic needs are not hierarchical or sequential. They are foundational to all human beings and our ability to flourish.”

 

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