Understanding Individuals Behavior

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Maslow categorized the human needs into five major hierarchical levels, whereby, the lower levels are satisfied first before satisfying the needs on the higher levels. Maslow identified the various levels of needs as (starting from the lowest needs to the higher needs) physiological, safety, social needs, self-esteem needs and self-actualization. However, it has been argued that the theory does not fully reflect the behavior of human beings in relation to what motivates them. For example, individuals may be hungry and at the same time need to have a feeling of belonging. This contradicts Maslows theory whereby the physiological need who has to be satisfied first before attending to the social need (Borkowski 2011). Alderfer, therefore, developed a theory that tried to explain the simultaneous nature of the Maslows hierarchy of needs. He compressed Maslows five levels into three broad categories; Existence, Relatedness, and Growth (ERG).

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According to Alderfer, the existence needs are the most basic such safety needs and physiological needs. Individuals will later feel the need to satisfy relatedness needs so as to satisfy their interpersonal relationship needs. It results when the individuals feel good about themselves because of how other people perceive them. The growth needs are experienced when individuals are seeking personal growth and development by engaging themselves in meaningful and high-quality activities. Although Alderfers theory still maintains the hierarchical structure, he states that they do not follow a fixed order as more than one need can be satisfied simultaneously. Alderfer further asserts that human needs and priorities changes according to the person and the circumstance, and individuals will be frustrated if their needs are unsatisfied on the higher levels, and they will go back to pursue their needs on the lower level.

McClelland believed that people have three main motivating drivers; the need for achievement, affiliation, and power, with one of them being a dominant motivating driver. He further states that people will behave differently according to their dominant motivating driver. McClelland theory contributes to the success of a manager since it provides a way through which a manager can learn and understand the different personalities of their subordinates. Moreover, the manager will be able to understand what motivates their staff and how they will respond to feedback such as criticism and praise as well as identifying the tasks that they will best perform (Borkowski 2011).

Reinforcement theory is based on rewarding the desired behaviors of employees and punishing the undesired behaviors. There are two primary types of reinforcement; positive and negative reinforcement. Positive reinforcement is applied when it is hoped that the individual will develop the habit of exhibiting the desired behavior in future. It is carried out to encourage the possibility of the behavior happening again in future, for example, rewarding the employees every time they meet their targets. Negative reinforcement, on the other hand, is carried out to eliminate undesired behaviors (Miner 2015). As a result, the chances of desired behaviors occurring will be increased. Negative reinforcement is focused on giving an employee another opportunity to avoid the consequences rather than rewarding them. For example, pressurizing the employees to achieve their targets will encourage the employees to work harder to avoid the pressure from the manager.

A managers power base refers to the methods through which the manager utilizes their powers to influence the behaviors and performance of their subordinates. The managers develop power bases by securing a central position, enriching their job by eliminating repetitive tasks, increasing the number of interactions with senior personnel and developing relationships between the different tasks and priorities of the organization. In order to achieve the desired objectives, the manager will have to identify strategies that will reduce resistance, resentment and abuse from their subordinates such as coercion, bargaining and presenting facts (Miner 2015).


Borkowski, N. (2011). Organizational behavior in healthcare. Sudbury, Mass: Jones andBartlett Publishers.

Miner, J. B. (2015). Organizational behavior 1: Essential theories of motivation and leadership.Routledge.

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