HOW MANAGERS CAN USE THE PSYCHOLOGY OF HUMAN NEEDS TO IMPROVE PROJECT OUTCOMES (Part 2)
( Part 1 ” Find the Spark …” — http://frederickpearce.com/find-spark-fan-flames/ )
In a nutshell, all human beings share the same basic human needs. These needs underlie all the choices we make in our lives. Although Maslow described a “hierarchy of needs,” it’s not considered a hierarchy any more. Everyone tends to favor one or two needs as being most important for them. But, rest assured, everything you do is done to satisfy one or more of your basic human needs.
If you can understand what needs you are satisfying when you do something, you will know why you do what you do. Once you understand why YOU do what you do, you will be able to discover why your team members do what THEY do. Thiis is especially useful when they are being unhelpful and obstructive – when they are causing problems. You can use this to help your teams be more productive and your projects more successful. You can use human needs psychology to solve just about any problem that arises on your projects.
Maslow noted five human needs. His work has been re-worked, by A.Robbins, into Certainty and Significance, Uncertainty and Variety, Connection and Love, Growth and Contribution.
While everybody has these human needs, we need them at different levels. One person may need more Certainty than another; a second person may have a greater need for Variety. Being Significant may be especially important to one, and so on. When we find ourselves lacking in any one of those needs, we will set about finding some way to satisfy that need. It becomes a priority.
Suppose someone satisfies all their human needs except Significance. Now we have a Gap — the need for Significance may be satisfied by achieving something great or by causing a problem. It is usually easier and faster to cause a problem than to earn respect or praise. Anyone can cause a problem.
A person causing a problem on your project is immediately significant. The more significant the problem, the more significant the person who caused it! But it is a destructive significance. What can you do to turn this around? By helping them find Significance in a positive way, you eliminate the need to find it in a negative way. Generally, people don’t like to be negative; it’s just that it’s easier.
“Find the Spark, Fan the Flame.”
“Finding the spark” is all about getting to know your people so you can discover what really excites them about life, about relationships, and especially about their work. When you know what they love to do, this is their spark. When you pay attention, the energy shifts, they light up, and now you can elevate them — “Fan their Flame” — and help them think in terms of what they love.
For example, I had a client – a manager – who had an employee who was most disruptive – always negative at meetings, argumentative, and so on. I figured the employee was trying to get attention, to gain Significance. The manager said the employee was a former soccer player, and a sometimes coach for a local amateur team. I suggested the manager ask about the soccer team, show regard for the employee’s management skills and coaching ability with the soccer team, and praise him for the contribution he was making to his local community. I also told the manager to use soccer metaphors as much as possible at work – “keeping one’s eye on the ball,” “being a good team player,” “passing so another player could score,” “stay focused on the goal,” etc.
It took no more than that for the employee to start using his good qualities in his work and he stopped disrupting the meetings. Just like that! The spark – his strength – he already had. All that was needed was to fan the flame. “Find the Spark, Fan the Flame.”
Finding the spark and fanning the flame, along with basic human needs psychology, is a simple strategy to turn good projects into great projects. I hope you can use this technique in your work and with your employees or co-workers. Contact me if you have any questions.