Tip #581: Maslow’s Hierarchy Applied to Teams

“‘What would you call the highest happiness?’ Wratislaw was asked. ‘The sense of competence,’ was the answer, given without hesitation.” John Buchan

The following information is drawn from an article titled: “Maslow’s Hierarchy of eLearning Needs” by “Brother” Joe Johnson at eLearning Brothers. He applies Maslow’s hierarchy to elearning development teams. However, his model can be applied to any team.

Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs is divided into five basic needs that are usually portrayed as levels within a pyramid. The bottom level is Physiological. Next comes Safety, then Social, then Esteem, then Self-Actualization at the very top of the pyramid.

Maslow’s premise was that physiological needs must be met before a person can focus on safety needs. Only after safety needs have been met will it be possible for a person to be ready to meet social needs. The ideal is for a person to finally become self-actualized, motivated by the satisfaction inherent in achieving personal goals.

“Brother” Joe relates Physiological needs to Time and Resources. Safety becomes Capacity, Social becomes Skill, Esteem becomes Competence and Self-Actualization becomes Peak Experiences. He describes them as follows:

Time and Resources: “To be successful, a team’s most basic needs have to be aligned so they can reach their goals. Having abundant resources and time and using them effectively can set your team on a higher level than others.”

Capacity: “It doesn’t matter whether doing something is possible; if the team doesn’t have the capacity for projects they won’t get done. Being overloaded is the biggest foe in the capacity category.”

Skills and Competence: “Teams are elevated by the skill of their members. Honed skills that are turned into competencies can lift your entire … department. Cohesion and success are the result when time is taken to improve the craft of each individual…”

Peak Experiences: “At this level the team has done what formerly was impossible: they have fulfilled all goals and reached the top.”

I thought this was an interesting take on Maslow’s Hierarchy. What do you think?

May your learning be sweet.


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