6 Human Needs Driving Business Success Today
In good economic times and bad, some businesses find a path to success while others are forced to board up their windows and doors. What’s the difference between those that soar and those that flounder?
Ultimately, business success comes down to how well the people who work for that business perform. Employee performance, good or bad, usually can be traced to leadership – whether company leaders want to admit it or not.
When teams break down and employees disengage, leaders and managers typically don’t question their own strategies. Instead, they blame the people assigned to carry out those strategies. If they are feeling charitable, leaders and managers say those people were bad fits. If they aren’t feeling charitable, they call them whiners, complainers, or failures.
But in about 80% of cases, I believe it’s not that the people are the wrong people for the job, but rather that leaders aren’t prepared to handle what I call “human moments” because they fail to understand and address these natural human needs.
Leaders who expect their teams to perform at the highest level possible must take into account the following six facets of human needs.
1) Clarity. In too many workplaces, people are unsure what’s expected of them, or how their job fits into a larger plan. People on teams sorely need clarity, or they’ll lapse into confusion. Specifically, team members must understand the purpose of the team itself, their role within it, the team’s outcome goals, and how their team fits within the larger organization.
2) Connection. Human connection is indispensable to healthy teams and is premised on connection to common core values, physical place, and a larger company culture. The trick is in creating those connections. I suggest an exercise I call 3-2-1. People in a group are asked to share three events they’ve experienced, how they responded to them, and how those events affected them. Then they share two childhood stories or coming-of-age adolescent memories. Finally, they share one of their biggest fears.
3) Contribution. Teams within an organization should never exceed 15 people, and leadership teams should be even smaller. The larger the team, the less inclined individuals are to contribute. One of the best things we can do as leaders is acknowledge the human psyche’s need to contribute and to reward it.
4) Challenge. Leaders and managers often are hesitant to challenge others, not wanting to push people or make them uncomfortable. But when we withhold opportunities that challenge people, we ultimately deny others an important human need. The trick is to make sure the challenges are productive. They should be difficult, but not so overwhelming that people withdraw if they fall short.
5) Consideration. Everyone feels the need to be recognized and valued. Unfortunately, leaders and managers often spend so much time on toxic or poor-performing people that they neglect everyone else. You can’t obtain and retain top talent if you don’t show people respect and consideration at every stage of the journey. They must be recognized for good work, thought about for promotions, and reminded of how critical they are to the organization.
6) Confidence. Confidence is fragile and can be easily shaken, which is why it’s critical for leaders to instill confidence in their teams. People fearful about failing become hesitant, avoid difficult challenges, and are less productive. But if they have confidence, even the hard stuff doesn’t seem so daunting. When leaders, managers, or facilitators help build confidence in their teams, they can inspire others to achieve audacious, improbable goals.
When all six of these facets are fully accounted for in teams, people are able to gel with one another, operate harmoniously, engage in healthy disagreement, and achieve important objectives.
Jeanet Wade, author of The Human Team: So, You Created a Team But People Showed Up! (ForbesBooks), is a Certified EOS Implementer and founder of the consulting firm the Business Alchemist. As a facilitator, teacher, and coach, she helps companies implement the Entrepreneurial Operating System (EOS), a set of business concepts, principles, and tools that help business owners and executives run more successful businesses.
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