Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs

Employee Engagement & Professional Growth
Using Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs

Maslow’s hierarchy of needs is a theory in psychology proposed by Abraham Maslow in his 1943 paper “A Theory of Human Motivation” in Psychological Review. Maslow subsequently extended the idea to include his observations of humans’ innate curiosity. His theories parallel many other theories of human developmental psychology, some of which focus on describing the stages of growth in humans. Maslow used the terms Physiological, Safety, Belongingness and Love, Esteem, Self-Actualization and Self-Transcendence needs to describe the pattern that human motivations generally move through.

Employee Engagement for Restaurants

In management, there are always going to be opportunities to grow yourself and others, for discussion purposes I’d like to dig into the nuts and bolts of professional growth by “piggy-backing” on Maslow’s Theory. As with any building process, whether it is a human being, a building, or a process, there MUST be a solid foundation. At the base of the above chart, you will see Physiological needs, this is where we will get the first opportunity to meet the needs of a new hire or current staff member. It’s important to note here that messing with the base of this chart can nullify and confuse all efforts you spend on the following steps of the pyramid to Growth (Self-Actualization). For our purposes as leaders, we will work from the bottom up.

Clear Structure and Clear Expectations (Physiological Needs)

What this means: Whether new to management or a veteran, it’s important to understand what structure and expectations we have in place for our coworkers and ourselves. This requires clarity not only in the interview and hiring process but also in the day-to-day management and leadership of the operation. It’s important that all staff members are getting the same message from management, a crack in this foundation or differing of opinions among managers can be detrimental to the team as a whole and will lead to employee turnover. In other words, lost productivity and lost money.

The Process: Each team member when hired should have very clear expectations as to their schedule, pay, job functions, and appropriate training process. In addition, clear expectations are best captured in many elements of a clear set of core values. Team members new and old should be held to a consistent standard of service and approach. This cycle is not complete without feedback to the team and communication among managers. It’s quite important in the foundational phases to hold people accountable if they are falling outside of our expectations, otherwise, we’ll start to see others follow suit.

Compensation and Benefits (Safety and Security)

What this means: In the restaurant business, one of the quickest ways to lose people in training is to not set clear expectations on what their income or income range/potential will be. Keep in mind, once they start that will be the first question they will be asking their new team members. Be up front about all benefits of working for your restaurant in any job function.

The Process: Whether it be employee meals, insurance, or paid vacation, it’s important that they understand what they will be receiving prior to accepting the position. As for Job Security, this can almost jump back to clear expectations. Team members should understand the expectations we have for them and that we will support them 100% as long as our expectations are met. Being open and honest about these types of issues in a matter of fact way can pay dividends later on by getting your future “low-performers” to not accept the job in the first place!

Engagement and Development (Belongingness and Love Needs)

What this means: At this point in the process, we are fully invested in this individual, it is vital that they are now developed in such a way that supports the prior two steps as well as “Core Values” of your business. We must continue to set clear expectations and provide regular feedback, with one added step, our genuine time, and care. It is important to take the time to coach and develop individuals on a personal level. Thomas Keller of French Laundry, the legendary restaurant in Napa Valley is famous for this click here.

The Process: It’s very simple! When you genuinely take the time to walk someone through a process in a professional way and with care, they will never forget it. Never miss an opportunity to take someone under your wing and teach him or her something. Whether a new employee or old this approach is always the right one, think about how it makes you feel when someone takes the time to walk you through a process that perhaps you were afraid to ask about. You or I would feel much more comfortable going to that person for help in the future rather than just taking a costly guess at the solution.

At the end of the day there are two keys to this step, we need to avoid:

Anonymity- People need to be:

  •      Understood
  •      Needed
  •      Appreciated
  •      Visible by someone in a position of authority

Irrelevance- People need to know:

  •      That their job matters to someone
  •      Make a connection between work and satisfaction to a boss or guest
  •      This will carry through to the next step “Motivation and Recognition
  •      The Tipping Point

This is perhaps the toughest part and is not covered in Maslow’s chart given that this topic is about employment there are other factors at play here. The Tipping Point is an important step in the leadership and growth of the business, now we must make a decision. Up till this point, we have fully invested our time into the growth of those around us. It’s now time to take a step back and evaluate our team. We should ask ourselves a few simple questions. Are we capable of getting to the next level with our current team? Are there any glaring problems that could inhibit us reaching the growth phase? This is as simple as identifying those with poor attitudes and constant negativity. If you have those types on your team it may be time to start fresh with those who have aligned goals and expectations with your businesses values.

Letting one or two individuals hold the team back from reaching the next level is unfair to the parts of your team that is striving to be better every day. It sounds simple in practice, but this is the time when many managers fail to realize the importance of letting people go. Hanging on to “low performers” will bring your “high performers” down and eventually cause them to move on from our company.

Motivation and Recognition (Esteem Needs)

Best Practices:  Recent nationwide surveys addressed the growing issue of low morale among company employees.  Over eighty nine percent of surveyed employees said that the best way managers could improve the workplace was to offer more praise for a job well done.  While it may sound surprising that this is what most employees most appreciate, the logic is indisputable that rewarding good behavior increases the chances of the behavior continuing.

When people know their managers are paying attention to their efforts and that their contributions to the company are appreciated, their work output significantly increases.  And since employees who receive regular praise for good work are much more receptive to critical feedback, praise can serve to strengthen your overall relationship with employees and the general work environment.  All of which is good news for your business.

Research from Wichita State University uncovered some surprising facts about praise in the workplace.  Of sixty five motivating factors in the work place, the top five for employees were, in fact, praise-related and rarely used by their managers.

  •    81% of employees seldom or never received public praise
  •    76%  of employees seldom or never received written thanks from their managers
  •    58% rarely or never received praise from their manager
  •    78% rarely or never received a promotion due to exceptional performance
  •    92% rarely or never participated in a meeting designed to build morale building

Although most business leaders have agreed that praise is a vital part of building productivity and workplace morale, it is seldom practiced on the job.  So with so many benefits of praise, why, then, don’t managers use praise more often?

    •      Managers often struggle to tackle everything on their to-do list, and praise for employees can drop off quickly when pressed for time.
    •      Managers simply take the lead from those above.  Middle management that rarely receives praise from upper management is less likely to praise its own staff.
    •      Managers are often solely focused on their employees’ failure to meet standards without due regard for their successes.
    •      Some managers simply haven’t developed the confidence they need to tell people on a regular basis that their efforts are valued.

Helpful Guidelines

The following guidelines can help managers seeking to offer praise more consistently and effectively:

      •      Be honest.  Your employees need to know that you really appreciate them.  Your voice, your body language, and the language that you use will affect how your praise is received.  Praise should come from the heart.
      •      Recognize outstanding performances at all levels in the organization.  Acknowledge alike those who occupy high profile positions and those who make things happen behind the scenes.
      •      Give praise sooner rather than later.  Try to recognize a job well done in real time, and not only during annual or other periodic performance reviews.  By giving praise timely, people feel good about themselves and stay more committed to their work.
      •      Praise openly.  When you give specific praise publicly, your employees enjoy recognition among their peers while you get to remind the group what is expected of them.
      •      Be specific with your praise.  “Good job” is less impactful than citing specifically the performance worthy of praise.  It shows you’re paying close attention.

Praising employees is an effective tool for raising your company’s employee morale and increasing overall productivity.  It only takes a few moments to offer praise, but the benefits are far reaching.  And that’s good for your bottom line!

When done right this leads our people to Fulfillment, so what does that mean for us as a Management Team?

      1. Increased productivity
      2. Enthusiasm
      3. Passion
      4. Attention to Quality
      5. Ownership
      6. Pride

And Ultimately!

      1. Greater Retention
      2. Lower Costs(Training, Hiring, Recruiting Process)
      3. Fulfilled Employees Attract other Talent
      4. More Productive Management and Less STRESS!!

Growth (Self-Actualization)

Provided all the other aspects of our pyramid are firmly in place, we are on a clear path to the next step in our team’s development! Some of our team members are probably already here waiting for the rest of the crew. If the first five steps are done effectively then this is the next natural phase. It is absolutely crucial that we are keeping our guard up at this point and not letting things slide back. When trying to keep things on track it’s important to gently nudge back into line. It’s always recommended to keep your composure and consistently make sure that everyone’s goals are aligned. At this point we should have a firm foundation of team members that fully understand:

      •      Our Structure and Job Functions
      •      Core Values and our expectations of the Business Leaders
      •      Security (We are with them 100%)
      •      We will take the time to lead them
      •      We will recognize when they perform to their full potential

With all these pieces in place and consistent leadership, your team will begin to make your jobs as leaders much easier. Naturally, when they start to appreciate and respect their job they will take ownership and start to push one another in new ways. They will make each other better and begin to operate like a team on their way to success. There’s always going to be hiccups but with moral in line and a steady-handed approach, it will be increasingly easy to keep things running smooth and in the right direction

The only real way for them to go is up provided our team is composed of high performing individual with great attitudes! Although this process is never truly complete, you will know you have done your job when you find yourself at the top of the pyramid yourself!

When all is said and done our goal is:

Sustainable Culture of Growth and Development

    1.    Staffs begin to take interest in helping develop others
    2.    We help them find relevance in their work WITHOUT Management
    3.    They begin to take responsibility over their work
    4.    All this leads to a greater sense of meaning and accomplishment