Maslow Theory of Motivation – The Basis of Successful Change Management

The Maslow Theory of Motivation also known as “Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs” model was developed between 1943-1954, and first widely published in “Motivation and Personality” in 1954. Starting from the premise that each human being is motivated by needs that are inborn, presumably as a result of tens of thousands of years of evolution, here is the hierarchy in ascending order:

(1) Physiological needs

These are the very basic needs such as air, water, food, sleep, sex, etc. When these are not satisfied we may feel sickness, irritation, pain, discomfort, etc. These feelings motivate us to alleviate them as soon as possible to establish homeostasis. Once they are alleviated, we may think about other things.

(2) Safety needs

These have to do with establishing stability and consistency in a chaotic world. These needs are mostly psychological in nature. We need the security of a home and family. However, if a family is dysfunction, i.e., an abused child – cannot move to the next level as she is continuously fearful for her safety. Love and a sense of belonging are postponed until she feel safe.

(3) Love and needs of belonging

Humans have [in varying degrees of intensity] a strong desire to affiliate by joining groups such as societies, clubs, professional associations, churches and religious groups etc. There is a universal need to feel love and acceptance by others.

(4) Self-Esteem needs

There are essentially two types of esteem needs: self-esteem resulting from competence or mastery of a task; and the esteem and good opinion of other people.

(5) The need for self-actualisation

Maslow theory of motivation proposes that people who have all their “lower order” needs met progress towards the fulfilment their potential. Typically this can include the pursuit of knowledge, peace, esthetic experiences, self-fulfillment, oneness with God, nirvana, enlightenment etc. So ultimately this is all to do with the desire for self transcendence.

A paradigm shift that forms the basis for good leadership and successful change management

The Maslow theory of motivation brought a new face to the study of human behaviour. Maslow was inspired by greatness in the minds of others, and his own special contribution to the field of motivational psychology led to the creation of the concept of Humanistic Psychology. Most psychologists prior to Maslow had focused on the mentally ill and the abnormal. In complete contrast the Maslow theory of motivation investigated and attempted to define positive mental health.

In so doing, he instigated a paradigm shift via Humanistic Psychology – predicated on the belief that humans are not simply blindly reacting to situations, but trying to accomplish something greater. This new approach represented in the Maslow theory of motivation became the source of many new and different therapies, all grounded in the belief that people possess the inner resources for growth and healing and that the point of therapy is to help remove obstacles to individuals’ achieving them.

It also forms the basis of much current understanding of what constitutes good leadership and forms a major foundation of prevailing models and theories of successful change management. The most fundamental value of this theory is to emphasise and remind those of us involved in leading and managing change of the complexity and multi-facted nature of human needs and motivational drives. Closely aligned to that observation is the difficult realisation that people have transcendent needs and aspirations as well as the more prosaic needs of survival and “pay and rations”.

Change Management – Prevent Failure by Dissolving Resistance

People don’t like to change. In fact they react badly and sometimes destructively when forced to change. Statistics tell us that 70% of change strategies within organizations fail to provide the desired outcome and often cause a great deal of discontent. It is interesting to note that this also applies to large scale organizations, such as the entire population of Australia. The population of Australia has NEVER passed a referendum to change the constitution, no matter how minor the proposed change has been. So the resistance to change pervades entire societies. What chance do you think that you can get your organization to accept change?

So what do we do about that when it is sometimes critical for an organization to change in order to survive? This may be an entire culture change or a procedural change, but if you don’t get the correct methodology in place you will fail.

There is a great deal of complex psychology behind why people behave this way and resist anything they are uncomfortable with. It is perhaps more of an issue now when the world seems to be changing so rapidly that few people feel any sense of security. The development of a change program, the extent of the change, your relationship with your people and HOW you explain the requirement for change, will all impact on the response and effectiveness of your change plan and management procedures.

A key determinant in the success profile is how well you understand the values and beliefs of each individual, and the organization as a whole. If you don’t have a clear understanding of these elements, don’t even think about trying to introduce a major change. You MUST understand how the organization and individual values either conflict or support each other and HOW you can make the two congruent. This is not the realm of a Project Manager since it is not a simple planning process by any means. The larger the organization, the more complex the management scheme must be.

A second key determinant is the skill with which the requirement for change is communicated. A hastily prepared email or letter to staff and management is probably more likely to cause conflict than solve the problem. People in an organization are first individuals and second a member of a group. That group is more than likely also broken down into sub-groups or cliques, each with its own natural values system. These must all be understood and in some cases unique communications methods for each group must be prepared so that the language and imagery provided to each group is perceived unconsciously as congruent with their values system.

Change in an organization is often seen as a management negative, introducing changes that will negatively impact groups or individuals. As a manager it is essential to try to let this negative perception by having an external specialist do a complete and confidential evaluation of the guaranteed resistance points in the organization (and there will be many). And when I say “confidential” I mean that members of your company or organization must feel their privacy is protected from management. Hence the need for external resources to undertake that part of the change project.

The good news is that we know how to do it, and enhance productivity at the same time!

Time Management Techniques – 5 Ways to Profit by Mastering Change Management

“The more you plan for change, the less you need to change your plans.”

Time management techniques are only as powerful as you are realistic. Even the best time management techniques will never provide you with the level of control you might like to exercise over your time, because life is always bigger than your plans. So your best strategy is to cultivate openness to change.

Most time management models are static, and people often construct their plans upon illusions of life’s predictability. So you might encounter resistance from many quarters if you approach planning differently, and base your time management upon a world in constant transition. Voices inside you and outside you may present arguments like these:

  1. “Change is unpredictable. Why even think about it?”
  2. “Unpredictability can generate stress. Best to stick with what you know.”
  3. “Change brings losses along with any gains. So avoid change to avoid getting hurt!”
  4. “Change requires added focus and work. Tiring to even consider!”
  5. “Change reveals the limits of your control. How frustrating is that?”

Of course, it’s human nature to resent new and shifting demands. Fortunately, it’s also human nature to thrive when such challenges are embraced.

“It is not the strongest of the species that survive, nor the

most intelligent, but the one most responsive to change.”

Charles Darwin

5 Benefits of Embracing Life’s Constant Changes

  1. The more you accept change as a constant, the more prepared you become. The more prepared you are, the more productive you are.
  2. Expecting change keeps you alert and interested. Resistance generates stress and inflexibility. But your effectiveness increases when you engage with curiosity.
  3. Genuinely accepting the inevitability of loss and change lessens the pain of it. It also helps you focus on creating gains from new developments.
  4. You develop new strengths when you focus and work to welcome change. Intensive times of growth foster positive turning points in your life.
  5. Truly accepting the limits of your control helps you train your focus on what you can change. And that’s where all your power lies!

You may be are surrounded by temptations to pursue routines that turn into ruts. But those who excel not only accept life’s ongoing changes – they capitalize on those changes.

Notice which friends routinely discourage you from expanding your horizons, and which friends encourage your taking reasonable risks to grow. Develop a community of support for yourself, and you will attract more opportunities to revitalize your life, both personally and professionally.

What is your next step in making the most of your time?