Our three basic needs – achievement, affiliation & power – translate, at work, to purpose, community & career.

There are three basic needs that we all have, according to psychologist David McClelland: a need for achievement, a need for affiliation, and a need for power. How we thrive at work depends on the quality of concordance between our needs and the needs of the organisation. It switches on, mobilises our intrinsic motivators.

The achievement motivator is switched on by concordance with the purpose of the company – identifying with the organisation’s mission and values, feeling that you make a meaningful impact and having pride in what the company, not only ‘shoots for’ but also ‘stands for’.

The affiliation motivator is switched on by a sense of community – feeling respected, cared about, and recognised by colleagues and service users. This drives our sense of belonging, our social identity.

The power motivator is switched on, not so much by “power over” people and things but by “power for” creating, for example products, services, markets, and influencing decisions. This is what career is about – having a job that provides autonomy, allows you to use your strengths and promotes your learning and development.

Facebook’s annual survey found that people want essentially the same things irrespective of age, level or performance reviews.  Younger people care slightly more about career, while older people care slightly more about the organisation’s purpose (or cause):

Have you discovered how these needs are working for you?

Achievement, Affiliation, Power are Intrinsic Motivators

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