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Self Actualization in the Workplace in Denver, Colorado. I just had this great thought. What if the state of Colorado had a new designation. Most self-actualized state! Most self-actualized employers! Most self-actualized corporations! Most self-actualized leaders!

What the heck am I talking about? Well, many of you have probably heard of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. Abraham Maslow was an American psychologist who created the theory of “Maslow’s hierarchy of needs” in the 1940s.

He stressed the importance of focusing on the positive qualities in people, as opposed to treating them as a “bag of symptoms.” He also believed that every person has a strong desire to realize his or her full potential, to reach a level of “self-actualization.”

How does this apply to the work environment?

Maslow’s theory is based on human need fulfillment. We all have the same basic needs, but until our more basic needs are met, it would be difficult for us to reach the level of self-actualization.

Here are the levels of Maslow’s theory. (thanks to help from wikipedia)

  • At the bottom of the hierarchy are the “Basic needs or Physiological needs” of a human being: food, water, sleep and basic survival needs. In the workplace, this would mean that we make an adequate salary to cover at least our basic needs. Many of us take this for granted, but there are minimum wage workers who struggle to even meet this basic level of need.
  • The next level is “Safety Needs: Security, Order, and Stability”. These two steps are important to the physical survival of the person. Once individuals have basic nutrition, shelter and safety, they attempt to accomplish more. I go into a lot of work environments where people don’t feel safe. They may feel safe physically, but emotionally and mentally they don’t feel safe.  There may be a workplace bully, or there may be a corporate culture where people don’t feel safe to share their opinions and ideas. There may be unhealthy ways of dealing with conflict and power. All of this can lead to a lack of safety.
  • The third level of need is “Love and Belonging”, which are psychological needs; when individuals have taken care of themselves physically, they are ready to share themselves with others, such as with family, friends and co-workers.
    Many organizations I work with despise anything that seems “touchy-feely.” Love and belonging, at work?? If you change the word love to acceptance and add in the fact that most of us spend more time with our colleagues then our families, then it makes sense that we would also want to be accepted and belong in the tribe of our work place. Questions to explore for a workplace to meet this level of need would be: Is my uniqueness welcome here? Do my values fit in with the values of my team and the organization? Do I like and get along with my co-workers and boss? Do I think they like me? 
  • The fourth level is achieved when individuals feel comfortable with what they have accomplished. This is the “Esteem” level, the need to be competent and recognized, such as through status and level of success. The need to be recognized and have success in the workplace seems obvious. And yet, when I work with teams, the VAST majority of leaders and co-workers give far more critical feedback than positive feedback. I hear things like, “why would I give positive feedback when they are just doing their job?” Wow, yes this is 2015, not 1950, but old school values still exist in the workplace that do NOT create an environment where people can thrive. How about you? Are you creating esteem for yourself and others?
  • The fifth level is the “Cognitive” level, where individuals intellectually stimulate themselves and explore. Again, we would hope this would be a given in the workplace, but there are many people who are bored and not really growing intellectually in the workplace.
  • The sixth level is the “Aesthetic” level, which is the need for harmony, order and beauty. It’s a valid question – is your workplace peaceful? Harmonious? Does structure exist in balance to chaos and change?

  • The seventh level, at the top of the pyramid, the “Need for Self-actualization” occurs when individuals reach a state of harmony and understanding because they are engaged in achieving their full potential. Once a person has reached the self-actualization state they focus on contribution, confidence and making a difference. 

Maslow wrote that there are certain conditions that must be fulfilled in order for the basic needs to be satisfied. For example, freedom of speech, freedom to express oneself, and freedom to seek new information are a few of the prerequisites. Any blockages of these freedoms could prevent the satisfaction of the basic needs.

So, what do you think Coloradans, can we create self actualization in the workplace in Denver, Colorado?

Physical Needs: Do people get paid to meet their needs?
Safety Needs: Do people feel safe in your workplace to express themselves and deal with conflict?
Love and Belonging: Does your team create an environment of belonging where people feel accepted to be themselves?
Esteem: Do co-workers and leaders build each other up for what they are doing well?
Cognitive: Do people feel intellectually challenged to grow?
Aesthetic: Is your workplace pleasant, orderly place to be?
Self-Actualization: Are people supported to bring all of their creativity and talents to the work place to make a difference?

At Transformative Training we work with organizations, teams and leaders to help them become more self-actualized. Together, we can move towards more self actualization in the workplace in Denver, Colorado. If you want support in growing yourself and your team, please give us a call. 

For your growth,

Jeannie Gunter, MA
President and Founder

Jeannie Gunter, MA

Jeannie Gunter, MA

Founder, Transformative Solutions

303 653-3097

Jeannie works with a wide variety of clients to help them increase their team effectiveness and leadership capacity in their teams. She has worked both nationally and internationally as an organizational consultant, facilitator, speaker and wilderness guide.

With a strong background in group dynamics, over the past 20 years Jeannie has guided hundreds of teams in a wide variety of organizations to successful outcomes in team, personal and professional development.

1 Comment

  1. Emily Zenthoefer

    Hi there!
    I am an undergraduate student at the University of Denver. I tell people that I want to go into corporate psychology, but, in truth, my passion lies more specifically in the pursuit of self actualization of the corporate world. I discovered this passion in my own journey with self actualization (and of course, this journey never ends).

    Currently I am studying abroad in Lima, Peru, but will return to Denver in January. I would love the chance to get involved with your Transformative Training. If I could observe, ask questions, or receive more information, this would greatly help me to grow.


    Emily Zenthoefer


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