19 November 2013
McClelland’s Acquired Needs Theory
Understanding people’s personalities and the things that motivate them are essential elements to being an effective manager. Over the years there have been a wide range of studies, many of which building off of each other, in attempts to pinpoint the intrinsic and extrinsic things that influence employees. David McClelland, an American psychological theorist, developed one of the more popular models known today as McClelland’s Acquired Need’s Theory which was an extension of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. In this theory he states that our needs are learned (or acquired) by our experiences and surrounding and outlines how our need for achievement, affiliation, and power can affect the actions of individuals (MindTools Ltd.). I will outline the characteristics of the three motivator’s listed in McClelland’s theory, and how they affect our actions.
The first dominant motivator is the need for achievement. This trait is associated with the need to set and accomplish challenging goals, taking calculated risk to accomplish these goals, and a desire for feedback (Wikipedia contributors). It is important for people motivated by achievement to set realistic, challenging, and achievable goals. In contrast, individuals who are not motivated by achievement may set unrealistically high goals so as not to be embarrassed by not achieving, or very easy to achieve goals to minimize the risk of failure (MindTools Ltd.). They prefer tasks that allow them to use their skills to overcome obstacles rather than luck (Swenson).
Achievement oriented individuals thrive in competitive environments and in working on activities that are important to him or her. These individuals work tend to work best alone, allowing them to focus their energy on the task (Swenson). Feedback is a key element to keeping an achiever motivated because of their desire to know what they’re doing right, and...