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Motivation and individual needs

By M.Farouk Radwan, MSc.

Motivation and individual needs

One of the biggest mistakes people make when trying to motivate others is not taking their individual needs into consideration.

According to Individual psychology each person develops certain drives and desires as a result of the experiences he goes through and thus you can hardly motivate two people using the same method unless they have both passed through similar experiences. (see How childhood experiences affect adulthood)

Individual differences can even be noticed among twins who happen to share the same house yet develop different personality traits. Based upon these facts we can conclude that individual needs must be taken into consideration when attempting to motivate someone.

How Individual needs can be used to motivate people

People grow up trying to either replicate the favorable conditions they used to live in when they were children or either escape from the unfavorable situations they used to live in.

For example, if an individual was raised in a house that suffered from financial insecurity then he might become motivated to collect money when he grows up. If another individual was spoiled as a child then he will become motivated to be spoiled once again even when he grows up.

Now that you understood how past experiences can result in different individual needs its time to know how to use these individual needs to motivate someone.

Managers usually try to motivate their employees using one method like offering a salary raise without noticing that individual differences can affect the level of motivation of each employee.

The guy who suffered from financial insecurity will become much more motivated to get a salary raise than others while the guy who used to be spoiled might become indifferent towards money if it will prevent him from enjoying his freedom.

Motivating people by understanding their needs

The perfect way to motivate a person is to understand his individual needs first then offer him a reward that either:

  • Helps him maintain the favorable status he used to live in
  • Or offer him a reward that would allow him to escape from the unfavorable condition he used to live in

If you want to motivate more than one person then do your best to sit with each person individuality to know more about his needs.

How to motivate a group of people with disregard to individual differences

Its easy to sit with 3,4 or even 10 people to understand their own individual needs but what can you do if you want to motivate a large group of people??

In such a case looking for a common need among most of the group then using it to motivate them is the best thing you can do.

Usually each group of people will have one common need that can motivate each individual member. For example in a poor country a high pay will certainly motivate the majority of people in the country.

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