Motivation is a process of stimulating people to action to accomplish desired goals. It is a psychological phenomenon which generates in the mind of an individual the felling that he lacks something and needs those things. Motivation is related to needs. So to motivate a person, we have to understand his needs.

In this regard, A.H. Maslow’s hierarchical theory of human motivation is very popular in the management. According to Maslow within every human being, there exists a hierarchy of five needs. They are as follows.

1)    Physiological needs
2)    Safety needs
3)    Social needs
4)    Self-esteem needs
5)    Self-actualization needs

The main features of hierarchical theory of motivation are :

-    Adult motives are complex.
-    Human needs form a hierarchy. A higher order need cannot become active motivating force until the lower order  need is satisfied
-    A satisfied need is not a motivator.
-    Higher level needs can be satisfied in many more ways than lower level needs.

1)    Physiological needs :
These are the biological needs required to preserve human life. These needs include needs for food, clothing and shelter. Physiological needs are finite and they must be met repeatedly within short time period.

2)    Safety needs :
After the basic physiological needs are satisfied, then next higher order needs emerges for an individual. He seeks safety or security. It includes protection from fire or accident, Economic security and desire for a predictable environment. Safety needs have finite limits.

3)    Social needs :
After the lower order needs have been satisfied, the social or love needs emerges. Since man is a social animal he wants to give and receive friendship and affection. Social needs provide meaning to work life and it represents need of the mind and spirit.

4)    Self-esteem needs :
These needs include prestige, dominance and recognition from others. Satisfaction of esteem needs gives a feeling of self-independence, worth and capability. Lack of satisfaction of these needs results a feelings of inferiority.

5)    Self-actualization needs :
These are the needs for the realization of own potentialities for self development. Self actualization is the desire to become what one is capable of becoming. This need greatly vary from person to person.

Maslow’s theory helps managers to motivate their employees by identifying employee needs. It accounts for both interpersonal and intrapersonal variations in human behavior. This model presents motivation as a constantly changing force.

However, the needs may not follow a definite hierarchical order in some cases. There may be overlapping in need hierarchy. For example: social needs may emerge before fulfilling of safety needs. So, need priority model may not apply in all places.

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