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People resist change when these priorities are not met

Do you have high expectations of your employees?

Well, I come from a culture where there are high expectations for both kids and adults. Now, I get a lot of parents who come to me and say, “I want to change my son or daughter. I want them to study more. I know that they can become a doctor or an engineer. I just need them to study a bit more. How could I change them?”

One particular mum came up to me and asked me these exact questions, and when I prodded a little bit more, I found out that her and her husband had recently split up. The boy was very withdrawn. He would stay in his room for a long period of time. He wasn’t studying.

The boy was naturally a very smart young man, but he just wasn’t performing. How the mother would react was she would ground him and his father would take away his phone and take away his video games. By reacting this way, they thought they were giving him more of a chance to study, but, unfortunately, when it came to his end-of-year exams, he didn’t even show up.

What happens is when we’re trying to expect so much of our kids or employees, there’s this hierarchy of priorities that we first need to address in order to get them to excel. This hierarchy is called Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, and what Maslow says is that a person can’t excel if those basic needs are not met.

The first need is survival, so knowing that I have food and shelter. Once that’s met, then I need to make sure that there is safety and security. This young boy had his entire life jeopardised, and he did not feel secure because everything had changed.

Maslow’s hierarchy then state that once we have the security, then we go up a level, and that level is belonging. “Do I belong in a social circle? Do I belong with my family?” And this poor boy, at this stage, didn’t feel like he belonged. Where did he belong? With his mum, or with his dad?

Once we feel like we belong, then it’s about our self-esteem. Are we confident in our capabilities and ourselves? Once we have that self-confidence, then we can achieve that self-actualization, where we can, in fact, perform at our best, where we can be creative, we can problem-solve really well. And only when all of those basic needs are met can we then excel and meet these expectations of our parents and our employers.

So, next time you have high expectation of your staff or of your kids, think, are their basic needs met first?

When you bring in a new change at work, do your employees feel security in their roles or is this new change making them feel that their job security is jeopardised?

Do they feel engaged and have a feeling of belonging within this change?

Do they have confidence that they can take on this change and run with it or are they doubting their own self confidence?

We can’t expect our employees to reach the top, if we haven’t secured the bottom foundation for them to climb on.

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