McClelland Human Motivation Theory In the early 1940s, Abraham Maslow created his theory of needs. This identified the basic needs that human beings have, in order of their importance – physiological needs; safety needs; and the needs for belonging, self-esteem and “self-actualization”. Then, in the early 1960s, David McClelland built on this work by identifying three motivators that we all have. According to McClelland, these motivators are learned (which is why this theory is sometimes called the Learned Needs Theory).
McClelland says that, regardless of our gender, culture, or age, we all have three motivating drivers, and one of these will be our dominant motivating driver. This dominant motivator is largely dependent on our culture and life experiences. The three motivators are achievement, affiliation, and power. People will have different characteristics depending on their dominant motivator. These characteristics are as follows •The need for achievement •The need for power and •The need for affiliation The importance of each of these needs will vary from one person to another.
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If you can determine the importance of each of these needs to an individual, it will help you decide how to influence that individual. McClelland asserted that a person’s needs are influenced by their cultural background and life experiences. He also asserted that the majority of these needs can be classified as the needs for affiliation, achievement or power. A person’s motivation and effectiveness can be increased through an environment, which provides them with their ideal mix of each of the three needs The need for affiliation
This is the need for friendly relationships and human interaction. There is a need “to feel liked” and “accepted” by others. A person with a high need for affiliation is likely to be a team player and thrive in a customer services environment. They will perform best in a co-operative environment. McClelland said that a strong need for affiliation will interfere with a manager’s objectivity. The “need to be liked” will affect a manager’s decisions, prompting them to make decisions to increase their popularity rather than furthering the interests of the organisation.
The need for power This is the need to lead others and make an impact. This need can exhibit itself in two ways. The first, which is the need for personal power, may be viewed as undesirable as the person simply needs to feel that they have “power over others”. They don’t have to be effective or further the objectives of their employer. The second type of “need for power” is the need for institutional power. People with the need for institutional power; want to direct the efforts of their team, to further the objectives of their organization. The need for achievement
This is the need to achieve, excel and succeed. A person with this type of need will set goals that are challenging but realistic. The goals have to be challenging so that the person can feel a sense of achievement. However the goals also have to be realistic, as the person believes that when a goal is unrealistic, its achievement is dependent on chance rather than personal skill or contribution. This type of person prefers to work alone or with other high achievers. They do not need praise or recognition; achievement of the task is their reward.