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Hierarchy of Team Needs

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In Abraham Maslow's hierarchy of needs, the lowest level consists of basic needs we all have, like air, food and sleep. Once those are met, we begin to move up the hierarchy to higher-level needs, such as safety and esteem.

The same hierarchy applies to the project teams, which are comprised of people with various levels of needs.

We often assume everyone is at a level comparable to ours and our remarks or comments will simply be understood the same way we would understand them. This is not to say the age or experience of project team members is directly related to these needs, as even most experienced members of the team may have gaps in fulfilling their needs.

Whether it's the need of a job or of recognition, all of these needs influence behavior and it's important to be attentive to them. They can influence various project activities and their outcomes, such as meetings, conversations, use of resources, vendor relations, compliance, ethics and fraud.

When organizations recruit project talent, they look at skills and experience as well as personality and cultural fit. But attention should also be paid to team member needs, including those of the project manager, director and sponsor. Doing so can contribute to better understanding of the project environment and the elements that will require special attention.


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Brilliant! I agreed totally to your view, its' more from a practical perspective.

While thinking of the people's needs and relating them to Maslow's hierarchy it is common to underestimate their motivation.

Think about yourself - are you motivated only by money? Or you crave appreciation and recognition?
Now think about your team member - do you think (s)he wants more money and is it all (s)he works for?

Thus, think of others at least as high as you think about yourself, may be even higher.

This is a current topic within my larger team - how to motivate and grow employee morale. Maslow's hierarcy is one approach we're taking to ensure basic needs are met, and move upwards in the "reward" chain. However, if some lower level needs cannot be met based on business environment or other distractors, attempting to provide motivators at multiple levels is a must.

Great post. Could you specifically link examples to each level of Maslow's Hierarchy? I think that would make for a great article.

That is true. Some times our project manager, even our peers, assume that our primary need is basic (just the salary, for instance), but it's possible that all we need is consideration, respect and some recognition for our work. In other occasions tend to estimate our needs according with your own Maslow's hierarchy of needs state (for intance, he is in the "esteem" while I'm in "safety")

Very True, the wheel will turn much more efficiently once everyone's needs are met.

I agree much to this post-- learning the various motivations of individual team members can help avoid the rubber stamp approach to motivation we have always thought was right.

This way we can improve performance on all our projects and make the necessary impact with our credentials and developed skills.

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