Hierarchy of Needs

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There is Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs and Hamel’s Hierarchy of Needs.  Maslow’s Hierarchy speaks in a general sense about our basic human needs.  Hamel’s Hierarchy of Needs emphasize the needs of an employee.  Maslow’s hierarchy is famous.  Hamel’s is emerging.

Hamel's Hierarchy


The pyramid to the left provides a picture of Hamel’s Hierarachy of an Employee.  At the very bottom of the pyramid, the basic need or feature of a strong employee is obedience.  This is pretty clear. You come to work on time and leave when your day is over. You complete tasks that are assigned to you and you are compensated.  Consider this word similar to the word employability.

The second level is the word Diligence.  Diligence is about just obeying and doing what you are told, you are diligent in completing the task in a quality way.  You move through obstacles placed in front of you and complete the task.

As the employee moves to the third level, Expertise is obtained.  Here the employee begins to have a high level of domain knowledge.  Domain knowledge is like having subject matter expertise.  You begin to understand and really own your role in business.

Before moving to the fourth level, let me stop there and say that the first three levels put you in with most of the work force.  In other words, this is the “Commodity” theme.  You are similar to the infamous Star Bellied Sneech of Dr. Seuss.  You are like everyone else completing the task.

Think of Henry Ford in a manufacturing facility in Detroit.  Your job is to put the wheel on the car faster than you did the day before.  You obey your manager, you work diligently and you begin to learn how to do it well.  If you get sick, Henry Ford himself, will replace you with someone else. Why? Because you are a cog in the wheel.

Now onto level four, which is called Initiative.  Initiative is seeing a need and meeting it without being told.  It is finding an area you are interested in and doing it during your non levels 1-3 time. You begin to bring aspects of your “person” into the job itself.  Are you starting to feel alive yet?

Level five is called Creativity.  A creative person is inspired. They are able to take a white page and make a masterpiece.  A creative person looks outside the box or the problem and brings a new solution.  He or she is the Sherlock Holmes of the business.  This creative energy adds value to the business or the team.

Level six is called Passion.  Passion is when your energy, cause and flow of work are brought to your business everyday.  Passion does not exist without vision, imagination or a picture of what is not there currently.  Passion is like enthusiasm.

These top three levels have a theme code of “Edge” It is your edge, your uniqueness that makes you and your business better.  Moving from “Commodity” to “Edge” requires a great deal.  Much of it you control and much depends on your boss.

Maslow urges people to self actualization.  This is the highest level of life and the highest level of work.  Most Americans go to work as a commodity.  I obey, I am diligent and I gain expertise.

Don’t you want more?  Start with initiative.  See a need and fill it in the only way you know how.  That is bringing your strengths and creativity to the table.   This is risky because you are now vulnerable.  Where will you take initiative at work to fill a hole, make someone better or improve your business?