The Six Drivers of Human Behavior

I frequently peruse the Interwebs for inspiration, and recently stumbled upon the website of a guy named Kevin Ciccotti. Kevin is a Certified Processional Coach, (normally I would roll my eyes at), but he recently published his first e-book entitled, The Human Factor Formula for Project Managers, which peaked my interest. By trade, I am not a project manager, but at my new gig I manage relationships with 25 (and growing) franchise locations, so more often than not, I’m managing something – usually projects but more delicately – franchise owner’s expectations.

The first 15 pages (it’s 41 pages long) are complete fluff. I rarely care about the reasons people assign to themselves for being qualified to give advice. Great advice is great advice, no matter if it’s coming from someone who is 17 or 71. Skimming through, he finally got along to the point on page 16.

According to Ciccotti, (or some super smart psychologist he based this e-book on), human behavior is driven by six key factors or needs. Instead of immediately judging someone’s behavior, as we all do, Ciccotti urges you to recognize where the behavior is coming from. To be a GREAT manager, you need to look beyond the project and connects with your team on a deeper level.

If you’re interested in the full article, I urge you to check out Cicotti’s e-book here, otherwise I’ll summarize the important points for you. Like I said before…

Human behavior is driven by six needs:

  • Certainty – The need to feel safe and comfortable in the environment around you.
  • Uncertainty/variety – The need for challenges to exercise our mind, body and soul.
  • Significance –The need to feel important and worthy of attention.
  • Love/Connection – The need to connect with others and develop relationships.
  • Growth – The need to continue growing intellectually, emotionally, etc.
  • Contribution –The need to contribute to something greater than yourself.

All humans experience these six needs, but not equally. According to Ciccotti, everyone has two driving needs, which are the strongest. By identifying your own needs, it opens a window into your management style.

I wrestled with it, but after a few minutes I came up with this order:

  1. Growth
  2. Variety
  3. Significance
  4. Contribution
  5. Connection
  6. Certainty

What does this say about my personality? It means I seek opportunities to climb the ladder at work, I always want to learn something new and I seek out exciting opportunities, or the status quo bores me. My boyfriend would argue significance is equally important to me because at times I can be an attention seeker, it was a very close third. I think for me, the last three are interchangeable, they all matter, but their importance depends on my situation. There are days when I want everything to go smoothly and feel comfortable, but sometimes and especially when I’m in networking mode, I’m digging for that deeper connection.

Want to be a better manager? Identify the order of your own needs. It can be a big eye opener into the impact of your ability to manage other people and the types of relationships you are likely to build. Once you are self aware, turn your attention to your team. What is most important to them? It will be different for every person but to truly get the most out of an employee or a volunteer, you need to play up their strengths.

If they want to feel significant, make sure you go out of your way to thank them, and commend them on their great work. If they crave growth, set up long and short-term projection goals. Talk through their aspirations and point them in the direction of continued growth. I’m sure you can figure out the rest.

Moving forward I will definitely start to hone in on the needs of my team. Hell – I think I might just ask them flat out to put them in order for me. (Who has time to guess). I haven’t done it yet, but I can only guess this will help improve communication and hopefully bolster our productivity.

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