Human needs and work

Alison Maitland's picture

What are the main ingredients of "a good work day"? According to research by Herman Miller Insight Group, the six key human needs are: Achievement, Autonomy, Purpose, Belonging, Security and Status. I was struck by how much this has in common with what we talk about in the book - especially the importance of management styles that enable people to achieve their full potential, with as much autonomy in their work as possible. 

Herman Miller's Insight team, led by Mark Catchlove, are good at involving their guests. We were asked to split into six groups, each discussing what's to be done to fulfil these human needs in terms of 1. Management methods 2. Tools & technology and 3. Work Places.

Here are some of the management methods that we collectively noted down:

Achievement - regular formal and informal feedback, clarity of objectives, measurement based on 2-way dialogue, autonomy not micromanagement, manager-as-coach

Autonomy - macro not micro managing, flat structure, giving trust, running with ideas, promoting freedom of speech

Purpose - supporting and respecting, openness, listening to opinions, recognition, fairness

Belonging - group meetings, social outings, talent sharing, personalisation of space

Status - respect, flexibility and understanding, listening

Security - recognising individuality, openness to challenge, safe place to work, providing people with a voice

You'll see there's quite a lot in common in what people said was important: a culture that listens, supports and recognises people for their contribution, treats them as individuals, trusts them, gives them autonomy and flexibility, and does not micromanage

In our book, we set out five TRUST principles for implementing new ways of working - Trust your people; Reward outcomes not hours; Understand the business case; Start at the top; and Treat people as individuals.

More grist, then, to our collective mill of changing management methods and organisational culture for a more efficient, effective, and human world of work!



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