Maslow’s Law of Hierarchy: A Guide for Managers

Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs Theory

Maslow’s Law of Hierarchy, created by Abraham Maslow in 1943, is considered to be one of the most important models in Psychology. It describes human needs and suggests the paths to these needs that people may follow to become more self-actualized. It also poses potent questions about employee satisfaction and ways it builds a strong response to changing times. During the phase when all industrial companies are facing “The Great Resignation“, it is becoming more imperative for managers to find a way to combat this response. The Maslow laws of Hierarchy of needs theory also is a great tool to find what motivates an employee and create a rewarding work experience for them.

What is Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs Theory?

Born in 1908, Abraham Maslow was a psychologist who is most well-known for his development of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs theory. This theory suggests that there are certain needs that must be met in order for a person to reach their full potential.

These needs are often represented as a pyramid, with the most basic needs at the bottom and the more complex needs at the top.

Maslow's Law of Hierarchy
GRAPHIC: Maslow’s Law of Hierarchy

Maslow believed that all people have these needs, but that some people are able to meet them more easily than others. For example, someone who is born into a wealthy family is more likely to have their basic needs met than someone who is not. As such, they may be able to focus on meeting the more complex needs. However, it is possible for anyone to meet all of their needs if they are given the right support and opportunities. 

Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs theory has been used in many different fields, including business, education, and even healthcare. It can be a useful tool for understanding how people interact with each other and what motivates them. It can also help businesses to create workplace environments that support employees’ need to grow and develop.

Defining each level of the hierarchy in regards to Physiological needs, Safety needs, Social needs, and Self-actualization needs is critical to motivating employees. Understanding these hierarchical needs are critical to identify the sources of motivation. It may vary due to the age, demographics, social status, upbringing, or financial condition of the employee. Lets dive in detail to find out each of these

  • Physiological Needs: The first level of the hierarchy is Physiological needs. These are the basic needs that are required for survival, such as air, water, food, and shelter.
  • Safety Needs: The second level is Safety needs. These are the needs that ensure our physical safety and security, such as personal security, financial security and health.
  • Social Needs: The third level is Social needs. These are the need for social interaction and belonging, such as love, companionship, and esteem.
  • Self Actualization: The fourth and final level is Self-actualization needs. These are the needs that allow us to realize our full potentials, such as creativity, self-fulfillment, and knowledge.

Application in real life situations

When managing a team, it’s important to understand what motivates your employees. According to Maslow’s Law of Hierarchy, people are motivated by different needs at different times.

As a manager, you can use this theory to identify what needs your employees are trying to meet and then provide the support they need to be successful. For example, if you have an employee who is struggling with a project, they may be feeling frustrated because their basic needs for safety and security are not being met. In this case, you could provide some additional guidance and support to help them feel more secure in their work.

On the other hand, if you have an employee who seems to be constantly seeking new challenges, they may be trying to meet their need for self-actualization. In this case, you can provide opportunities for them to stretch themselves and grow in their role.

By understanding Maslow’s Law of Hierarchy, you can create a more supportive and motivating work environment for your employees. We can propose a relatively simple model which can be applied to make the workforce more motivated

Employee TypeWhich Part of Pyramid to TargetTypes of Motivators
Career StarterPhysiological and Safety NeedsGood Salary
Job Security
Safe Workplace
Best Managers
Middle ManagementEsteemHigh Quality Work
Challenging Projects
Differentiated Workplace Experience
Senior ManagementSelf ActualizationProvide Exceptional Responsibility
Freedom to lead a team
Create a Disruptive Product
Wage/Contractual EmployeePhysiological and Safety NeedsGood Salary
Job Security
Personal Injuries taken Care off
Applying Maslow’s Law of Hierarchy to Various Levels of Management

Implications of Maslow’s laws of Hierarchy of needs for Managers

Maslow’s Law of Hierarchy is one of the most well-known theories in psychology. The theory suggests that there are certain needs that must be met in order for a person to reach their full potential. This theory has implications for managers, who must understand the needs of their employees in order to motivate them and help them reach their full potential.

  • Managers must first understand that not all employees are motivated by the same things. Some may be motivated by money, while others may be motivated by recognition or opportunity for advancement. It is important for managers to understand what motivates each of their employees so that they can provide the appropriate incentives.

  • Secondly, managers must recognize that employees have different levels of needs. Some employees may only be concerned with meeting their basic needs, while others may be motivated by more intangible factors such as self-actualization. It is important for managers to tailor their motivation strategies to the needs of their employees.
  • Third, managers need to keep in mind that employee needs to change over time. What may have motivated an employee in the past may no longer be effective. It is important for managers to periodically reassess the needs of their employees and adjust their motivation strategies accordingly
  • Lastly, managers need to keep in mind that employees have different needs in different circumstances. While it may be effective to motivate an employee operating within familiar boundaries, it is likely to fail if used upon someone operating under uncertain conditions.

 It is important for managers to match their motivation strategies with the situation they are facing Forgetting these five principles of motivation can lead a manager down a slippery slope toward failure. Successful managers first obtain an understanding of the five principles, then create a blend of reward and dealing strategies that match their particular environment and resources. A mixture of strong coping and learning skills as well as trust facilitate this process; otherwise – purely controlling or traditional power will erode the base of high-quality cooperatively driven employees.

Recommendations for Upper Managers Who Want to Improve Performance

There are a few things that upper managers can do in order to improve performance within their company. The first is to ensure that employees have the opportunity to grow and develop within their roles. This means providing training and development opportunities, as well as setting clear expectations for employees. Additionally, managers should create a positive work environment where employees feel supported and valued. Finally, managers should encourage employees to set goals and work towards them. By implementing these practices, upper managers can create a more productive and positive work environment for their employees.

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