Needs, leadership … and the bottom line

by | Jul 26, 2021 | Leadership Matters, Profiling

What are your people’s needs in work?  Do you know?  How do you know?

In this blog I explore the importance of having a motivated and engaged workforce.  I also discuss how a superb diagnostic, which I use in my consultancy, can really help you understand the people in your organisation, to improve your leadership AND your bottom line.

People come to work to have their needs met.  For some it is purely financial – they work to earn to live.  For others, it can also be a social need – they value being part of a successful team, or joining in office banter, or somewhere to get them out of the house and into a different world.  Actually, there are probably as many needs to be met in the everyday workplace as there are individuals. Added to that, some people’s needs (ie for a quiet office) may contradict the needs of others (for example, those that love lively office banter).  That’s a lot for any leader to keep on top of, all day, every day.

Leadership theory, citing Herzberg, often calls these needs “hygiene factors”, or “motivational factors”.  Some needs are crucial for survival (water, food, shelter …) and some are pretty crucial for sustained satisfaction (appreciation, emotional warmth, trust).  It is important to understand what makes your people tick.  After all, if you don’t, you cannot possibly expect them to give of their best for you and your organisation.  Why should they?  Their needs are not being met, despite coming into work every day.  As a leader, you have a responsibility to address this.

What do leaders need to do about meeting needs in the workplace?

The first key point is that you need to understand that everyone’s needs are likely to be different, and that you can’t be expected to know them all.  Additionally, you also have a responsibility to balance people’s needs with the needs of your organisation, and that’s a skill and a half.  However, until you KNOW the needs you are dealing with, you are in fact hampering your own ability to succeed in leadership.

Sounds harsh?  Let’s see …

Can you spot people in your organisation who display the following characteristics?

  • Demotivated
  • Blaming others
  • Complaining about the same things, repeatedly
  • Leaving (or, more generally, high staff turnover)
  • Tribalism (Us and Them culture)
  • Being off-focus in their work
  • Underperformance
  • Random sick leave

If any of these sounds familiar, it is odds-on that you have people whose needs are not being met.

Let’s be clear, unmet needs don’t mean you are a bad leader

What it IS suggesting, however, is that you may have gaps or blind spots when it comes to your leadership skillset.  Nobody’s perfect, after all.  It is the mark of a strong and competent leader to admit they have gaps … AND a plan to fix them.  And this is the key.

This is the key because it is up to you to inspire and co-ordinate your people so that they get the best from themselves.  That is a tall order, admittedly.  It is, however, very doable once you know their needs in the workplace, and you meet them.  Treat them the way they want and NEED to be treated, not how you think you would want to be treated.  After all, you aren’t them and they aren’t you.

Nor is meeting individuals’ needs more important than the organisation’s needs

The employing organisation’s needs always have to have priority over an individual’s needs.  This is important to keep the organisation solvent and on track with its core purpose.  Nevertheless, successful organisations meet the collective need of the business case without neglecting the needs of individuals. In fact, they recognise that the drive and commitment that delivers against an organisation’s goals and targets come as a result of people’s needs being met.  Staff are more motivated, happier and very often more productive..

So how can you get better at meeting people’s needs?

The most important first step is to find out what their workplace needs are.  Then it’s important to find out, the extent to which your organisation is meeting those needs.

Here are some handy tips on how to go about this:

  • It’s important that you ask everyone.
  • A simple online survey is a great way to reach everyone.
  • Make sure your survey is anonymous.
  • Structure your survey so you can target specific areas (feedback, team spirit, handling performance etc etc)
  • Have a baseline for your survey, to capture your “as is” and then after a period of time to measure progress
  • Capture the feedback and share it with your teams
  • Invite your teams to comment on how the organisation could meet their needs better
  • Invite your teams to devise solutions
  • Take action based on the feedback …


That’s quite a long list.

Luckily, help is at hand

An Even Better Place to Work (BP2W) is an online needs analysis and leadership support tool, which has as its entry point the amazing Satisfaction@Work diagnostic.

This is a high value, low cost solution which really works. By low cost, I mean about 11p per person per day for the Level 1 diagnostic for a whole year!

Recently I was hosting a webinar when one of my BP2W clients, who happened to be on the webinar, gave an unprompted testimonial for the product.  He shared how the diagnostic had uncovered unmet needs right across his firm.  He also shared how, thanks to BP2W, the firm had been able to take action to address this, resulting in greater team cohesion and sense of purpose.  I was really pleased, because he was bearing witness to the power, value and impact of this simple tool.

BP2W meets the needs of busy workplaces.

BP2W has been used by small firms like my clients’, but one of the first to use it were Siemens and PepsiCo.  It is widely used in the NHS in the UK too.  The impressive support platform has the diagnostic, but also great team engagement tools, posters, videos … and backup support from your reseller (me!).  The survey is thorough but really fast to complete online, the results are anonymised with care, and the results are presented in a way which doesn’t attack the leadership.  It really is the win-win solution.

If this sounds like something your organisation could use, please get in touch.  We can have a chat, I can give you a brief guided tour around the demonstration model online and you can see for yourself how easy, cost-effective and powerful it could be for you.  Just think of the time, recruitment fees and general hassle it would save!