At our morning tea ritual, Mark and I are reading a great book called Loaded: Money, Psychology, and How to Get Ahead without Leaving Your Values Behind by Sarah Newcomb. While, yes, it is about finance, the book goes into general psychology concepts that just happen to be applied to money.
One of the concepts Newcomb discusses is needs versus the strategies used to meet those needs, as opposed to needs versus wants. She brings in Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs (another reason we like this book), but instead of viewing the hierarchy as climbing up the ladder (completing one rung before climbing up to the next), she sees all the needs on Maslow’s Hierarchy as needing to be met, not simply in a linear fashion. For example, some people’s need for self-actualization might outweigh (or seem to outweigh) their need for job security.
Newcomb also makes the point that the strategy we use to meet a need is not the same as the need itself. For example, someone getting their daily dose of Starbucks coffee isn’t just satisfying the need for sustenance, but possibly also socialization, feeling part of something bigger, or other complex needs. A strategy might fulfill several needs within the hierarchy.
Here’s the kicker: there are many strategies one can use to meet their need for socialization and part of a community; buying coffee at Starbucks is just one strategy.
So what does this mean for you, leaders and teams? Well, one way for teams to work better together is through emotional intelligence (EQ). The more aware you are of why you do what you do (that deeper need that is being met), the more intentional your actions.
Conversely, if you understand why your colleagues do what they do (the deeper need that is being met), that understanding leads to greater empathy, which is a component of EQ (social management where you regulate how you interact with others).
(You can find lists of various needs in a simple online search. Take a look and think about what strategies you use to meet those needs.)
Again, what does this mean to you? Well, at any point in time, we individuals are trying to get our needs met. How does that show up in our work? What fulfills us (meets a need)? What doesn’t fulfill us? What drains us instead? What are we searching for? What are we hungry for? What need are we desperate to get met?
Someone who has a need to be creative (and who desires that need to be fulfilled at work) is probably going to thrive in a high-paced environment where they must think on their feet and where things are changing constantly.
Conversely, someone who has a great need for stability and structure would not thrive in such a workplace and could suffer from constant exposure in that environment.
It always comes back to understanding that people are different from one another. In addition, deeper understanding of ourselves allows us to make better decisions, take more informed actions, and manage our behavior.
Deeper understanding of others (especially when one is emotionally mature enough to comprehend that others behave differently from us for different reasons) allows us to have greater empathy, which can lead to more patience, less conflict, better communication, increased productivity and efficiency, and, most importantly, a more positive culture in the workplace.
What do you need?