Maslow’s hierarchy of needs in application to the public agency
Maslow’s hierarchy of needs
Abraham Maslow developed the Hierarchy of needs model back in the 1940s, but still, it has remained relevant to date. This model is widely used in studying human motivation. The model is also highly relevant in management training and personnel development. It is observed that the understanding of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs is of significance to employers as it becomes possible for them (employers) to adopt the most relevant and best methods of motivating the employees (McGregor 1). Maslow’s original model had five levels (since then modifications have been made leading up to eight levels):
- Level I: Biological and Physiological needs – air food, drink, shelter, warmth, sex, sleep, etc.
- Level II: Safety needs – protection from elements, security, order, law, limits, stability, etc.
- Level III: Belonging and Love needs – workgroup, family, affection, relationships, etc.
- Level IV: Esteem needs – self-esteem, achievement, mastery, independence, status, dominance, prestige, managerial responsibility, etc.
- Level V: Self-Actualization needs – realizing personal potential, self-fulfillment, seeking personal growth, and peak experiences. (“Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs: Abraham Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs motivational model” par. 1)
Motivators in my public agency based on Maslow’s hierarchy of needs
According to Maslow, the satisfaction of human needs is progressive and follows the above order from level one to level five. The conditions (whether environmental or not) that lead to people satisfying their needs, therefore, act as motivators and this is the logic behind human motivation. Using the above exploration of the Maslow hierarchy of needs, there are a number of motivators that can be pointed out in my public agency.
- Level I: This is the level of biological and physiological needs. The agency pays its employees decently to enable them to achieve most of their needs at this level; the wages paid to the employees are, in this sense, the motivators. Interns are, however, not motivated at this level as there is no monetary compensation for them.
- Level II: This is the safety level that arises immediately after the first level of needs is satisfied. Employees in my agency are not elected and therefore, are serving in the office continuously. This factor provides security to the employees since it is only the elected official who leaves the District Office after a term is over, but the office will still remain thus it will provide means of livelihood to the employees.
- Level III: This level has belonging and love needs. In my agency, there is a lot of interactions, and communication is encouraged. Projects are accomplished through cooperation among group members, and therefore, it can be said that this acts as a motivator as it brings out that sense of love and belonging.
- Level IV: This is the esteem level. At a personal level, my agency has given me the opportunity to work towards achieving this level. This is because of the valuable experience that I am gaining and the networks that I am building.
- Level V: This is the last level and I do not feel my agency has any motivations at this level.
What motivators are missing
There are two motivators that I wish to recommend in my agency that need to be seriously considered. First, there is a need to consider the interns for some monetary compensation even if it may be of little value. Second, the interns should be engaged in more activities as this will enrich their experiences and prepare them to effectively achieve their dreams (the fourth level of the hierarchy needs).
“Theory X” or “Theory Y” in the public agency
The behavior of employees in a public agency or a private corporation can be determined in terms of theory X and theory Y. These two theories were developed by Douglas McGregor in 1960 and are still in the wide application in theory as well as in practical studies of human motivation.
Theory X makes the assumption that on average employees are only motivated to work for money. McGregor developed the following features to describe a typical employee as pertains to theory X.
A dislike for work and attempt to avoid it; the presence of no ambition, there is no longing for responsibility and preference for following over leading; self-centeredness and therefore, there is no care about organizational goals; resistance to change and; being gullible as opposed to being intelligent. (“Theory X and Y: Theory X and Theory Y” par. 2)
On the other hand, theory Y was assigned the following features:
Work is as natural as play and rest; it is possible for people to be self-directed to meet their work objectives; people are well motivated by rewards, which help them to achieve higher needs such as self-fulfillment, and most people are responsible because creativity and ingenuity are common in the population. (“Theory X and Y: Theory X and Theory Y” par. 7)
A close observation of my public agency reveals that the behavior of the employees tends more towards portraying theory X features. Some of the behaviors displayed by the employees in my agency give an indication of hating work and preferring more rest. For instance, Mondays are not very good days at work as the staff seems to have weekend hangovers; towards the weekend on Thursday and especially on Friday, the staff members are usually excited, and more often than not the staff members are heard talking about how they are going to do this and that over the weekend. Another feature I have noted at my public agency is that employees tend to work best when under pressure.
When there is a deadline to beat or after the staff members have left some work to pile up and all over they wake up to find the deadline quite close they work so hard to ensure that they do not violate the deadline. This often displays the employees as efficient but the underlining factor is that they are forced by circumstances to work hard (“Human Motivation: A Theory of Human Motivation” par. 1).
The difference between government agencies and private corporations
Public agencies differ in some ways from private corporations. Most of the differences emanate from the differences in leadership, and the way leadership comes into being. In most cases, leadership in public agencies is on elected form and only reigns for some specified time but on the other hand, leadership in private corporations is not necessary on an election platform, and in most cases, such leadership goes on for some long reasonable time. The duration of the reign of a particular leadership has some implication on the way an organization is run and thus creates differences between the public agencies and private corporations.
Leadership in most public agencies is on a short specified period of time; Allison Graham put its average at 18 months (Graham 38). This often has great shortcomings on running an organization as the leadership is not in a position to layout a long-term vision and plans for such an agency.
This is often the opposite of what happens in the private sector. The leadership in private corporations often takes a long time which makes it possible for such leadership to lay out long-term plans for an organization. Due to the prolonged leadership duration, a leader is able to effectively implement his or her plans well and thus ensure that everything is carried out in accordance to plan.
Another difference between public agencies and private corporation is how the two are influenced by outside. Government agencies often are heavily influenced by the politics of the day. This often pushes such organizations to make decisions based on political interests. This, however, does not happen as in the case of private corporations as they are not influenced by the politics of the day. They are, therefore, able to make decisions, which are not based on any outside influence. Making decisions, which are not inclined to any position often leads to making decisions, which are effective.
The level of exposure to the public through the media also differs between the public agencies and the private corporations (Graham 38). Public agencies are accountable to the public and in most cases, all the decisions and actions are put into the public limelight. This often makes it hard to make some decisions that may attract public criticism. This often limits the range of decisions that can be made by public agency officials. This often is not the case for the private corporations whose decisions and actions do not have any inclination towards what the public wishes. In this case, the private corporations are free to make a wide range of decisions (“Public and Private Sectors: Differences between public and private sectors” par. 1).
Features of privatization applied in the management and operations of the public agency
The features of privatization that is evident in my public agency are flexible working schedules, casual attire at the office, and casual relationship with the superiors and the work colleagues.
Public offices have specific working hours which need to be strictly followed. In most cases, public offices have a specific time by which all employees ought to have reported at work. Employees are not allowed to leave work until the time when they are supposed to leave the office. This however is not the case for my public agency. The reporting time is not usually very strict and the interns do not report to work every day.
The office is not keen on official attires and, in most cases, employees especially the interns are usually on casual attires. The casual attire at the office may not affect the effectiveness of the office operations very much since most of the work that is undertaken by the interns is internal and involves paperwork with no external interactions. For instance, at the position of LCMS assistant, I carry out the tasks of data entry and check that all the information is updated.
I also work closely with the District Director by providing updates on the status of the cases in LCMS. I am also in charge of coordinating constituent mail issue letters. This work clearly has no physical interaction with the external stakeholders hence not being in public official attires does not really affect the effectiveness of the employees and the office.
The relationship within the organization is quite casual. Work colleagues relate to each other in a casual manner. The District Director, for instance, is a very casual person and keen on cracking jokes. There are times he will ask someone to stand in front and sing for the others. I find this to be a very great way of making the office lively though it is something that you will not easily find in official offices.
Graham, Allison 2012, Public and Private Management: Are they fundamentally alike in all unimportant respects. Web.
Human Motivation: A Theory of Human Motivation 2012. Web.
Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs: Abraham Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs motivational model 2010. Web.
McGregor, Douglas. The Human Side of Enterprise. 2012. Web.
Public and Private Sectors: Differences between the public and private sectors 2012. Web.
Theory X and Y: Theory X and Theory Y 2010. Web.