Maslow’s Pyramid or Theory of the Hierarchy of Human Needs is a concept in Psychology that has become one of the most widespread dynamics in Human Resources management. Maslow’s hierarchy of needs in management
It is based on the principle that human needs present a hierarchical relationship capable of directing individuals’ motivation towards different types of satisfaction .
Although it is often used to define marketing strategies inside and outside companies, one of its essential benefits is a reminder of a truth sometimes overlooked by managers and salespeople: we are dealing with people! People with different desires, urges and inspirations.
In this post, you’ll take a real dive into the depths of human motivation to understand the essences that govern our behavior and understand how Maslow’s ideas can — and should — be used to develop employees and attract more customers to your business. Come on?
The rise of Maslow’s theory
The famous theory of human needs was developed and presented by the American psychologist Abraham Maslow , one of the most outstanding authorities in the so-called Humanistic Psychology, an area dedicated to the study of human behavior and the forces that influence it.
Maslow’s first observations were made with monkeys. The psychologist realized that these animals radically altered their behavior according to certain physiological needs. Those who didn’t get food, for example, were much more aggressive, but became docile soon after they satiated their hunger.
His studies also encompassed research on sexuality and dominance in monkeys and humans, and the findings were published in his book Theory of Human Motivation (Theory of Human Motivation) , 1954, in which his famous Pyramid of Human Needs is illustrated for the first time . Maslow’s hierarchy of needs in management
The layers of the Pyramid of Maslow
Maslow’s Pyramid is a brilliant representation of his concept, organized in a didactic and functional way.
All essential human needs are described, from the physiological ones at the base of the pyramid to the more abstract ones at the top. Watch below!
Basis: physiological needs
Physiological needs are those linked to our survival , such as breathing, rest, nutrition, hydration and sex. They are the deepest human needs and, when unmet, they receive all the attention and energy of the individual.
Second layer: security needs
Once their basic needs are met, the individual’s motivation will be focused on their safety and self-preservation . This group includes physical protection, the search for shelter, stability, comfort, health care , among others.
Third layer: social needs
In the center of the Pyramid of Maslow are the social needs and, from here, the psychological needs begin to predominate .
Once their basic and protection needs are met, people then turn to their love relationships, family, marital relationships, among friends, co-workers, etc.
Fourth layer: esteem needs
On social needs, there is the motivation for acceptance, recognition, respect, prestige, authority, etc. At this stage, people look for ways to feel valued , whether in their personal or professional life.
Top: Self-actualization needs
Finally, at the top of the pyramid are the needs related to self-fulfillment, that is, the achievement of personal desires , such as freedom, wisdom, independence, overcoming difficulties, self-control, among others.
According to Maslow’s theory, meeting the needs cited in one floor of the pyramid prompts the individual to feel the needs of the upper layer more intensely. Maslow’s hierarchy of needs in management
On the other hand, it is enough that one of the needs of the lower layer is not being met for, instantly, the individual’s motivations turn towards it.
Hierarchically, therefore, we have physiological needs as our strongest need, followed by self-preservation, socialization, self-esteem and self-actualization.
This implies, for example, that a person whose physiological needs are not being met will not give much importance to any other type until these needs are met.
Maslow’s theory applied to people management
Based on Maslow’s premises, what is expected of an entrepreneur or manager is that, before demanding motivation or productivity from their partners and employees, they understand their needs.
Note that goals and promotions, for example, fit at the top of the pyramid, that is, they are self-fulfilling needs.
In this case, if the employee’s previous wishes are not being properly worked out, he will hardly make the best effort so that his work or career in the company evolves.
Following this reasoning, we can adapt the information described in Maslow’s Pyramid to the professional context. In this case, we could list needs such as:
- base: physical rest, mental tranquility, sufficient salary, comfortable hours for basic needs such as food, breaks and hygiene;
- second tier: safe and welcoming place, environment and working conditions, stability, higher wages;
- third layer: healthy relationships with colleagues and leaders, favorable organizational climate , mutual respect, friendships at work; Maslow’s hierarchy of needs in management
- fourth layer: professional recognition, appreciation for results, opinion power, raises, bonuses, awards;
- top: participation in projects that you consider important, autonomy in your decisions, working in an area you like, exercising your creativity , having more flexibility, etc.
It is clear that there are several needs that are beyond the control of the company’s management, after all, people have their personal conflicts and challenges. However, even though it cannot intervene directly, a comprehensive attitude from the leader can make all the difference. This is one of the pillars of humanized management.
The biggest difficulty for many companies is the breaking of the walls between the leadership and the work teams. In order to be able to identify the needs of people who share space in an organization, it is essential to adopt clearer, open and horizontal internal communication strategies .
Maslow’s theory applied to marketing and sales
Maslow’s principles are more explored by companies that work with complex sales regime and long-term communication strategies, such as Content Marketing .
Still, your ideas can help all types of businesses when we consider their potential to clarify the interests of the public. Check it out!
Understand the audience’s motivations
If your audience is focused on security needs, for example, it is not interesting to work your communication with arguments that only address social needs.
Likewise, there is no way to work on a collaborator’s self-fulfillment if he is struggling to survive.
As you can see, this knowledge helps us to better guide our strategies and our dealings with people, whether they are prospects and customers, managers or employees.
By getting to know their true concerns, we are able to get closer to people and offer solutions that will really make a difference for them.
Understand consumer behavior
By understanding the needs that motivate consumers , it is possible to define the best times to attract or approach them , always taking into account the fact that people are always trying to satisfy their current needs to “reach” higher levels in the pyramid. Maslow’s hierarchy of needs in management
Except in very specific cases, a company that works with the direct sale of water bottles or small refreshments, for example, will not be very successful creating excessively motivational campaigns, as its ideal client is the one who just wants to quench their thirst quickly and without many roundabouts.
Align marketing and sales strategies
If there’s one thing Maslow really makes clear to marketing and sales, it ‘s that purely rational arguments aren’t enough. People’s emotions will always weigh more heavily on their behavior and decisions.
Strategies, therefore, need to be devised based on the audience’s needs and emotional response. In other words, we can’t be stuck with what the customer sees — we also need to understand what he or she feels when faced with your content, your offer, or your product .
Develop desirable products and services
Aligning the characteristics of its products and services with the main aspirations of the brand’s audience, the chances of success are much greater. Surprising a customer is great, but meeting their expectations is critical .
Essentially, what companies and professionals deliver are not products or services, but solutions. If you don’t know about your persona ‘s true needs , it’s unlikely that you’ll be able to offer a solution capable of arousing people’s interest and motivating them to buy. Maslow’s hierarchy of needs in management
Criticism of Maslow’s Theory
Maslow’s concepts continue to be valid and widely used in several areas of knowledge, especially in people management . However, there are theorists who question the solidity presented in his scheme.
In fact, there is no clear evidence to support such a well-defined hierarchy of human needs, and so some modern critics advocate a more flexible view of the concept, in which motivational priorities vary from one individual to another.
Theory remains an important reference for academic studies and for defining marketing , sales and management strategies . We just shouldn’t make the mistake of working its principles too rigidly .
The Maslow Pyramid is just one of the concepts capable of making your company better relate to all your audiences, however, there are several other ideas that can also contribute to the success of your business.