Motivating Employees: A Look At Maslow

Building a good team is the corner stone of any management system and is especially crucial with a Lean Six Sigma management system. From personal experience at businesses ranging from fortune 50 companies to a small business, teams and personnel usually have to be coached and trained with the right system to work at the highest level. Motivating your employees and your teams can be one of the biggest challenges you face. Most businesses don’t have much of a budget so they have to find ways to motivate employees without money but money can be an issue and Maslow’s hierarchy of needs explains when money is an issues and when it is not.

Maslow’s theory can be represented by the following graphic:The message from the representation that is applicable to your business is that your employees need to have basic necessaries covered. What I tell most employers is to pay a little more than market wage or pay enough where the employee can earn a decent wage. That usually means paying more than minimum wage. When you do that, money is off the table and the issue of pay is not as relevant.

When the first 2 levels of the pyramid are meet then how do we get employees to work at their best and ascend through the pyramid. Businessweek published a report in 2008 that gives factors that motivate employees:

-Empowerment to Make Decisions
-Opportunities for Growth & Development
-Mutual Support and Respect
-Sense of Purpose
-Desirable Future

You want to make sure that your management systems will address each of these factors above and if you have a Lean management system you will address all these.

Empowerment to make decisions – Autonomy is the expectation in a Lean management system. Before having people just go and fix their own problems you have to train to make sure everyone is solving problems correctly.

Opportunities for Growth/Development & Variety – Instead of having 1 person do only 1 job have them cross-trained. This not only give opportunities for growth/development & variety but it also helps alleviate attendance issues.

Mutual support and respect – Respect for people is a cornerstone for a Lean management system. What does it mean? The best way I can think of describing this is use the golden rule. If you were in that situation how would you want to be treated? Would you want your ideas at least listened to instead of ignored?

Sense of purpose – It’s important to have goals and objectives but goals and objectives that actually make sense. I’ve been in many businesses where the projects the people on the line did not match the goals of the company. Having strategic alignment is important and helps with having a sense of purpose.

Desirable future – Lean management systems are designed around growth. No one wants to be at a company that is reducing headcount. This is a mistake many companies make when adopting a Lean management system. Focus on growth instead of cost reduction.


related articles:
Factoid Friday – Motivation Doesn’t Come From Commissions, Money, Or Compensation
Motivating Employees Without Money – The Psychology Of Behavior Change
Motivating Employees Without Money
Hurry Up And Wait – Are You Motivating Your Employees Incorrectly?

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