Is Maslow’s Hierarchy still relevant for internal communications?

It’s often said that the staple of behavioral psychology, Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs is irrelevant. In some ways I agree, however it’s a useful model for internal communications.

For those who don’t know the theory, Maslow claimed that people move through stages and can’t progress to a higher level before the needs of the lower levels are met. As in the pyramid model below, people start with the need for food and water, moving up to morality and problem solving.

How does this relate to internal communications? To understand, we need to place the hierarchy pyramid next to David Grossman’s The Eight Key Questions.

Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs

Every manager wants engaged employees who work for the good of the organization. They are the ones who ask the ‘we’ questions, not the ‘me’ ones.

Together the two models help show how to get your employees from ‘me’ to ‘we’.

Look again at the side by side images.

Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs

This time, with the lines, you can match the type of questions with where the employee fits in the hierarchy. Then it’s just a matter of targeting those needs to help your employees move to being ‘we’ people.

Bianca Smith

Bianca is a freelance digital marketer in Seattle. She works with clients big and small, in the US and Australia, on digital marketing, branding, event communications, social media and website content.

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