Work Attribute and Importance
Maslow Need Being Exhibited
Potential Reward or Expansion of Duties
Generally speaking, a person’s needs and place on the Maslow scale will roughly correlate with their age and socio-economic status. For instance, it would be uncommon for third graders to worry more about the lack of viable third-party candidates in American politics than being picked first for dodgeball. Conversely, a veteran worker returning to the workforce might not normally be motivated that your new satellite shop is entirely wireless with a virtual display area. Their sense of belonging could be a bit weak. Someone who has moved up the needs ladder toward self-actualization tends to focus on problems outside of themselves (global warming, letters to the editor, neighborhood social causes, etc.).
WHY IS THIS PSYCHOBABBLE IMPORTANT?
This material is not your typical Maury Povich vs. Dr. Phil paternity test rumble. This is the real deal — most definitely not psychobabble. It is as far from pop psychology as sophisticated CNC machinery is to a bent hacksaw. Dr. Maslow’s work represents an astonishing breakthrough in human understanding. Anyone involved in relating to, and motivating, a group of employees would benefit immensely through the practical application of Maslow’s hierarchical approach. By doing so, the rewards and incentives would be very high-impact as they would be drawn from the essence of the top-performing employee and satisfy a deep longing they felt. What competitor could match such a magnetic approach? Consider the low-cost examples of potential retention rewards in Figure 3 based on fulfilling an MVP’s true needs that are too often overlooked in a business setting.
THE IRA — INDIVIDUAL RETENTION ASSESSMENT
The very best way to forge the “Happy Handcuffs” for your top-shelf employees is to use every resource available to develop a professional dossier for each MVP — a new way to view an IRA! (We’ll call it an Individual Retention Assessment). The IRA, when completed, can guide your various individualized offerings of compensation, bonuses, perks and special gifts and arrangements meant for your top performing associates. Can you imagine a large corporation preparing something like this? They couldn’t and wouldn’t. Remember, there are certain elements of compensation and benefits that must always be consistent among your full-time employees — you can’t cherry-pick that offering or apply discriminatory practices, but that still leaves plenty of ways you can customize the reward program for the remarkable people who do remarkable things in service to your company.
DOES THIS VICIOUS CYCLE HAVE YOU STARING OUT WINDOWS?
At this very moment, someone who’s reading this is rightly worried that the day is coming when you’re not going to be able to keep your very best employee on your team. It might just be one person that you can’t imagine living without or maybe it’s three people that make up your Go Team. Each raise brought them closer to topping out on your pay scale. Each new responsibility they mastered only made them more indispensable. Here you are feeling fully dependent on someone again even though having your own business was supposed to end that. You’ve probably played out this dream scenario any number of times in your head. Maybe their family has grown and you feel a personal obligation to help position them more securely. It is now officially a vicious cycle. It’s nauseating when your best efforts feel like they’re just not enough — a real nightmare. No matter what, there’s no process that will always work; the fact is good people do get away. But there are creative ways to make your company this person’s little piece of heaven — try them out.
A LAST THOUGHT OR TWO
Manage your retention one employee at a time. Focus on the key jobs that have the most impact on profitability and productivity and move those people toward those jobs through training and exposure. Everyone has a different set of needs and expectations about their jobs. Prepare an Individual Retention Assessment to use as a detailed retention map. Use every resource, including candid heart-to-heart discussions with your MVP, to help you develop something that is right on the money. (It needs to be right on the money because there will be times when direct compensation will not be sufficient to close every potential gap that the employee might perceive.) Use all you have learned to quickly and comprehensively identify their unique motivations, goals, current level of job satisfaction, etc., as well as any other expectations they may have about their career.
Like an FBI agent developing a criminal profile, use every potential input when forming your IRA. (Inputs might include: age; generational group with whom they identify; their various needs vis-à-vis the Maslow scale; accurate résumé information including education; their consumer demographic; credit and license reviews; charities they support; spouse or significant other profile with children’s information; interests; performance appraisals, etc.) All of this knowledge will assist you in determining what they are moved and motivated by — finishing up with the various ways you could bring them closer, through a rewards program, to meeting their needs and achieving their desires. Remember, it’s critical you get it all right or it will be all wrong!
We have learned that a one-size-fits-all approach to rewards and compensation stopped working years ago. Today, everyone’s lives have extraordinary needs and demands, and workers (including the very best workers) tend to migrate toward companies that fairly address those needs and demands. There is no reason why your organization can’t be the perfect company to meet those needs and make a long-lasting, welcome home for this hard-working star.
About the author: Chris Traynor, Surface Fabrication magazine’s senior business columnist, is the director and knowledge scout for Whip-Smart Management Consulting LLC., Wayne, N.J. (www.whip-smart.com), as well as a board-certified senior professional in human resources (SPHR). Traynor has 25 years of experience in the solid surface industry as a consultant to fabricators, distributors, manufacturers and associated firms. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.