Purpose – How To Become Truly Purpose Driven?

Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs

Last week I spoke to you about purpose driven organisations and then we had a brief look at Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, starting with physiological (basic survival needs such as food, water, warmth etc) to self-actualisation (higher level needs such as altruism, creative, charitable etc). The fundamental principle of this theory is that the needs at a lower level of the pyramid must be met (and continue being met) before one can think of the higher-level needs. The image above shows Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, proposed by Abraham Maslow in the early 1940s.

We have all seen another Maslow’s needs image applied to an organisation’s context where the employee goes from disengaged to self-actualised, shown below, taken from Proactive Insights. The problem I have with this is, it is putting the blame entirely on the employee, see image below. I passionately believe that employee disengagement and engagement are both effects, not causes. They are a manifestation of underlying problems in the organisation such as bad or no leadership, lack of culture/bad culture and so forth. Image below for your reference.

Hierarchy of Needs and Employee Engagement

However, wow, let us look at the Maslow’s diagram at an organisational level, the way it ought to be.

Hierarchy of Needs Applied to Employees

The above images are not a reflection of employees at different levels of the organisation’s hierarchy. It applies to all employees along all levels. Just to make this point clear, there are two images, one applied to a C-Suite level, and one for a machinist level. The objective is to get every employee from the bottom level of the pyramid to the top level of the pyramid. As organisational leaders, founders, board member etc, you want your employees to be ambassadors of your organisation’s purpose and values. How you inspire them to act as such is something you can determine. What will help you to start is the fact that nobody, absolutely nobody, comes to work in the morning determined to do a shoddy job. People come in to give their best.

It starts at the physiological level which ensures basic needs such as being paid decent wage, paid regularly and job security (provided they perform to an acceptable standard) are met. Then, comes the need for a safe working environment, provision of appropriate protective gear, consistency of experience everyday. This is then followed by the need for belonging. As leaders we must ensure that there is a friendly and positive atmosphere within employees, there is mutual respect and dignity, and employees can speak and act without the fear of being bullied or discriminated against. This is followed by the need for achievement. Employees must feel that they are valued, and recognised for their efforts. Finally comes the need for progression, promotions and greater responsibilities and added challenges, which stimulate the intellectual.

Once you ensure these needs of your employees are always met, they become ambassadors of your purpose and carry the flame forward. This is how you become purpose driven in behaviour, not just on paper.

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