How human needs affect outcomes

What happens when people interact in a business situation?

If we accept that humans have one to three basic needs, and these three needs are: the need for achievement, the need for affiliation and the need for power, and that we all have these needs in varying degrees, we can start to understand why people do what they do.

Obviously there are a multitude of other factors that influence behavior but I see these particular needs as being significant in how we behave, and I will share some of my observations in management situations relevant to these needs.

A brief description of each need would be:

The need to Achieve: This is the need to do something better, quicker, faster, more effectively, and more efficiently.

The need for Affiliation: This is the need to be liked, accepted, and to be part of the group. Peace, goodwill and harmony is important, conflict is to be avoided.

The need for Power: That is the need to impose your will onto others.

In have found that those people who have a predominant need for Achievement are in the minority.

Those persons with a predominant need for Affiliation are in the majority.

Those persons that have a need to impose their will onto others (Power) are the second biggest group.

Most people have a combination of these three needs and we all act out according to these needs.  I will confine my comments on behavior in this article to business management situations only.

Let’s start off with a Super Achiever heading up a business.  That person is going to work diligently and to the best of his/her ability do what needs to be done, effectively, efficiently and on time.

Let’s assume that a different manager really has predominantly only two needs, Affiliation and Achievement, and that they are split evenly. In this case I have found that that this manager would have difficulty in firing people, because the achievement side wants to do it, the affiliation side not.

If however a particular manager has a predominant need for Affiliation, it becomes very difficult indeed for that manager to fire anyone, unless the manager does so in a fit of temper.  There is always the chance that the Affiliation manager will relent and take the employee back the next day when his/her need for Affiliation kicks back in.

Persons with a predominant need for Affiliation constantly wrestle with doing the right thing and as opposed to taking a decision that will make everyone happy.  They have a need to be liked and accepted and this affects their thinking and action process.

For that reason, Affiliates are often manipulated.  By way of an example, if an Affiliate boss has a Power assistant, that assistant could fairly easily manipulate the Affiliate boss to take a certain course of action.  Affiliates need to watch out for this.

People that have a predominant need for Power tend to want to impose their will onto others, are concerned about status, are forceful and have a “tell” management style.

Power people tend to more easily manage lower level subordinates or those subordinates that accept their management style, until it no longer suits the subordinate.

It is interesting that Achievers and Power people do not easily get along, whereas the Affiliates try to get along with both parties.

An ideal situation would then be for Achievers to head up businesses, and for Affiliates and Power people to occupy appropriate positions within the company.

For example, an Affiliate would be better suited at a hotel reception desk than a Power person, and a Power person would probably perform better as a litigation attorney than an Affiliate would be.

There is a job and a specific role for everyone.  It’s what people do and how they interact with others that matters.

The above explanation is a very basic and brief introduction into how behavior under the needs model affects outcomes.

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