This blog is the second part of “Why your staff are disengaged” and was written in response to a recent Gallup survey revealed that two-thirds of employees are disengaged. It went on to say that “72% of New Zealanders are actively disengaged in the workforce, with 59% of employees behaving poorly with family and friends after a stressful day’s work.” These statistics are quite unbelievable and very scary! So what is it that is causing this lack of engagement and the general unhappiness of our New Zealand workforce? Let’s continue our discussion…
Status and Social
The next need we have is the need for Status, the need to feel important or significant. There are generally three ways that people meet this need. The first is by making themsleves feel important by belittling someone else’s achievement or berating them in public for a mistake they might have made. Others meet this need by being the loudest, the funniest or the most inappropriate. When an individual is feeling insignificant the quickest way to achieve Status is to lose their temper, to shout, become violent or aggressive. Immediately the attention is on them (and only them!) and they achieve a feeling of significance in the moment. Although this is a dysfunctional approach the person subconsciously achieves their goal.
The second way of achieving status is by putting yourself out there in a positive way; by achieving great things, by giving your time and energy for the benefit of another person or organisation, by becoming a role model or by overcoming a large and seemingly insurmountable challenge. And finally, many people meet their need for Status in neutral ways. People who want to stand out from the crowd will get more tattoos and piercings in strange and unusual places than the next person. They’ll dress a little differently or have outrageous facial hair or out-of-the-norm hair colouring or styles. There’s nothing wrong with any of these approaches but they are little ways of identifying how people might be meeting their need for Status or significance.
As a leader, it is easy to meet this need in others simply by praising heartily and often. Of course, praise has to be honest and specific and it’s important to always look for the positive even in a seemingly negative situation. It’s key to remember that individuals can also meet their need for Status by talking about how unimportant they are or droning on about an insurmountable problem they have that they seem to derive more pleasure in talking about than overcoming. Anytime someone does something to deliberately draw attention to themselves, they are possibly feeling a need to be recognised.
The need for Social connection varies from individual to individual. Some people need others around them all the time, they are involved in lots of different groups and events and have a high disposition to social engagements. At the other end of the spectrum are those who are happy to be mostly on their own and be part of, say, a book club, for example. Every now and again they’ll mingle but their need is far below that of the social butterfly.
A great example of a group of people meeting their need for Social connection is the Forming stage of the Team Lifecycle and once individuals meet this need within themselves they will look for ways to stand out from the crowd, to be different, to be noticed…to achieve Status. Again, this can be witnessed in the Storming stage of the Team Lifecycle. People with a high need for Social connection are team players, they like being part of the group and enjoy group activities and everyone working toward a common goal. They are generally the ones who organise team events or nights out and other social gatherings. Keep an eye on their Facebook usage because if they aren’t getting this need fulfilled in work they will look for other ways to fulfill it (they’re not poor workers, they’re just being human). Meeting your employees need for Social connection is easy in a team environment, just make sure everyone is included, everyone has a voice and everyone feels heard (Status).
Self-Actualisation is a combination of personal growth and contribution to others. Although Self-Actualisation is a need, it is not a “base need”. Unlike the other human needs individuals don’t have to attain Self-Actualisation for psychological health, however, real happiness is only achieved through bettering yourself and contributing your time and your resources to the benefit of others. For a lot of people personal growth is important and they seek it out of their own accord. A work place example might be someone who seeks out a mentoring relationship. They are looking for ways to constantly improve themselves and jump at the chance of going on a training course that might give them the skills to perform better.
There is evidence of contribution through organisational life as well. Companies often associate themselves with charities and good causes and it’s generally those people who give freely of their time to help out in these endeavours who are fulfilling their need for contribution. Self-Actualisation is a need of the spirit; it’s not essential to our psychological survival but it is essential for our long-term happiness. And, let’s be honest, if we all focused just a little bit on Self-Actualisation, wouldn’t the world be a much better place to live in?
To sum up, people become disengaged in work, in life and in relationships when their fundamental needs are not being met by their environment. Because we all must meet these needs, if we can’t meet them positively we will find other ways, even if these ways are dysfunctional and unsupportive. The trick to making yourself happy is to find positive, resourceful and sustainable ways to meet each of your needs. Become conscious to how you meet these needs currently and if they’re not supporting you, introduce new strategies that do support you. It’s the same for your employees, find positive and sustainable ways to meet their needs and they will be happier, more engaged and more productive than ever before.
If you’re interested in discovering more about your human needs and how they are influencing your life, your career and your relationships, or are just generally curious about how to identify these in others, please contact us at any time for a free consultation.