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Need Hierarchy Theory

The need hierarchy theory is formulated by Abraham Maslow. He advocates a hierarchy of needs present in all individuals. At a point of time, the individual’s behavior reflects his desire to satisfy the strongest needs present in him. Once hat need is satisfied, the next strongest need arises in him and he strives to satisfy that need. Manages determine that need and adopt motivators to satisfy it. Though normally individuals satisfy their needs in the order of hierarchy. Starting form lower-level to higher-level needs, they may no always follow this order. The potency or strength of a need depends upon each individual’s set of priorities.

Maslow’s need hierarchy consists of five types of needs. These needs, in the order of priority are:
(a)    Physiological needs
(b)    Safety needs 
(c)    Social needs
(d)    Ego needs
(e)    Self-actualization needs.

The first three needs (physiological, safety and social) are lower-order needs and next two needs (ego and self-actualization) are higher-order needs.

(a)    Physiological needs:

There are the basic needs that people want to satisfy. They are the need for food, clothing, shelter and other necessities of life. The strongest motivator that can satisfy these needs is money along with a healthy work environment.

(b)    Safety needs:

Full or part satisfaction of physiological needs arouses safety needs in and individual. These are the needs to remain free from eternal dangers of war, destruction, accidents etc. and internal dangers of losing the job and maintaining the standard of physiological needs. People want their jobs to satisfy their safety needs. The motivators that can satisfy these needs are the benefits of life insure ace, provident fund, heath insurance and other retirement benefits.

(c)    Social needs:

Man is a ‘social animal’. He cannot live alone. While working in the formal structure of authority-responsibility relationships, he develops affection and respect for his superiors and fellow workers. He becomes part of informal groups in the   organization. In fact, the very formation of informal groups is bases upon peoples desire to satisfy their social needs. Man wants to share his thoughts and feelings with loved and respected by them. Motivators like harmonious relationships in the organization, good natured fellow workers and healthy work environment satisfy his social needs.

(d)    Ego needs;

This is a higher-order need of achieving power and prestige and arises after satisfaction of the lower-order needs. These needs can be of two types:

(i)    Self-ego:

It is the desire of a person to develop competence, power and independence. It is the need to be satisfied with one’s own performance. At the organizational level. Managers can satisfy these needs by providing a good office layout and hob titles.

(ii)    Public ego:

Along with job-satisfaction and self-confidence, a person also wants others to recognize him. The desire for prestige is a dominate form of ego needs. Prestige is “a sort of unwritten definition of the kinds of conduct that other people are expected to show in one’s presence; what degree of respect or disrespect, formality or informality, reserve or frankness.”

The non-financial motivators satisfy ego needs of employees. Important and challenging jobs (requiring varied skills), prestigious job lavation, autonomy to take decisions are the motivators that satisfy ego needs of a person.

(e)    Self-actualization needs:

These needs inspire a person to develop to his maximum potential. They are placed at the top of the need hierarchy. These is a strong desire for achievement and competence in every person which arises after the above four needs are satisfied. These are the needs of becoming what one really wants to become. People with strong self-actualization needs do not wait for things to happen; they make things happen. The inner desire to become a doctor or engineer or professor or social reformer and actually becoming one is the satisfaction of self-actualization need. Personal and professional growth and achievement are the motives that promote self-actualization needs of a person.

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