In order for an organization to succeed, its leaders need to set a mission, vision, and goals and then determine a strategy and objectives for achieving those goals. Staff who carry out the tasks needed to achieve the mission are an important component of a company’s strategy. Consequently, it is important to hire the right employees, which means those who have necessary skills, a willingness to learn, and agree with the organization’s vision. Conflicts occur when differences exist between the needs, values, and interests of individuals or groups and those of the leaders of the organization. It is important to create a win/win situation to balance the dominating needs of the organization with those of the individuals in order to retain satisfied employees and meet organizational goals. To some degree, individual needs must be left in the parking lot to separate one’s personal and work lives and to maintain a certain level of productivity and professionalism.

Why Employees Needs Matter
In the well-known Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, Abraham Maslow uses a pyramid to show how human needs start at the bottom with basic physiological needs and extend upward to self-actualization needs.

  • Level 1/Physiology: the most basic needs of oxygen, food, water, and shelter
  • Level 2/Security: safety, emotional security, financial security, health, and wellbeing
  • Level 3/Belonging: the need to feel as if one is a member of a community
  • Level 4/Self-esteem: confidence in one’s value as a human being; and
  • Level 5/Self-actualization: the feeling that one is reaching their full potential

Leaders need to be aware of these needs to keep their employees motivated and satisfied. Happy employees are more productive and deliver better results for the organization. Leaders need to demonstrate to their teams that members are liked, appreciated and their opinions matter.

In 1997, Robert Barrett used Maslow’s hierarchy to develop seven levels of organizational consciousness. He continues to refine the model. These needs encompass:

  • Level 1/Viability: Survival and financial stability
  • Level 2/Relationships: customer, client, vendor and partner satisfaction
  • Level 3/Performance: results, productivity and efficiency
  • Level 4/Evolution: continuous learning, innovation, empowerment
  • Level 5/Alignment: integrity, trust, honesty, transparency
  • Level 6/Collaboration: cultivating communities, mentoring/coaching; and
  • Level 7/Contribution: Being of service, social responsibility

Obviously, an organization needs to be concerned about revenue generation and keeping the balance sheet in check. Leaders also need to innovate and adapt to changing market conditions. Moreover, it is important to consider employee satisfaction, employee growth paths, and the company’s role as a corporate citizen of the city, state, and country in which the organization exists.

Why Employee Needs Do Not Matter
Employee needs do matter, but an organization needs to be focused on organizational needs and not what is good for an individual, whether that person is a CEO or a line worker. What is best for the overall organization is what matters. Consequently, employees need to separate their personal feelings and needs from those of the organization and support the mission. If one cannot do that, because they have decided to become a vegan and they work at a meat packing plant, it may be the wrong place for them to work. This separation also does not mean that leaders should not be open to the ideas of staff, but it does mean that we need to leave our personal baggage at the door. If employees are distracted by personal problems, they will not be as focused on their work and may be more critical of others. Productivity and company core values can fall away if employees are not focused on their roles.

Both the organization and its employees will prosper when their needs align with each other. Leaders need to be cognizant that employees want to feel empowered and involved. Employees need to commit to fulfilling the goals of the organization. When everything is in balance, an organization will be better positioned to succeed.