Do Theories Like Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs Play a Role in Project Management?

This question came up the other day on a LinkedIn post and many answers were given. Personal bias plays a big role in answering this question. Usually this bias comes from experiences where companies have tried to integrate different theories such as Maslow’s into their team environment. The results are either good or bad based on how fast and how drastic the changes took to be implemented.

Many companies try to establish this induction of a theory or process in a subtle manner but are often found with too much change being implemented. This change can cause many emotional imbalances to come out by the team and is usually not shown or evident to the implementers.

A good process is to understand, based on a theory such as Maslow’s, what characteristics already exist in the team environment. Although the theory is created in a structured manner, many PM’s and corporations already deliver some, if not most, of the theory’s key concepts without fully being aware.

Let’s face it, the theory isn’t rocket science and we know that different things motivate different people. By looking at all the different concepts and slowly introducing them without impacting a “change chaos” situation, the team will gradually adjust.

A PM that enters into a failing project can have the ability to implement a drastic change, however this is based on how much need there is for it and what backlash will be received. Thus, gradual change over a period of time with limited emphasis to the change is a good method to achieve this goal.

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