We’ve all seen or heard of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. Although most of us are not worried about “survival” like people in past generations, you might be surprised how Maslow’s principles apply to business. Chip Conley, author of Peak: How Great Companies Get their Mojo from Maslow , literally transformed his business and his life by applying these principles to his business, which he grew from a single hotel to one of the world’s most profitable boutique hotel chains.
According to Conely, “Meaning creates inspiration.”
People want to work for a cause, not just for a living. However too many organizations ask their employees to engage in hollow work, to be enthusiastic about small-minded visions, to commit themselves to the selfish purposes and competitive drives of the company. Conley suggests there are three kinds of relationships someone can have with work; you can either have:
- A job,
- A career
- Or a calling.
This ties in with The Transformational Pyramid: Someone who sees the relationship as a job will be anchored to the survival level with money the tie in, those on a career path find motivation on the success level and those who experience work as a calling at the transformational level. There is however a subtle difference between meaning at work, and meaning in work.
Meaning at work relates to how an employee feels about the company, their work environment and the company’s mission. Meaning in work relates to how an employee feels about their specific job task. It is the achievement of meaning at work that realizes transformation. So how can meaning at work be achieved? Conley believes an employee must align intrinsically to the mission of the company. If the company can identify its higher calling: what philanthropic, strategic or humanistic mast it “pins its colors to” – then the employee can in turn find meaning.
“In the end it is impossible to have a great life unless it is a meaningful life. And it is very difficult to have a meaningful life without meaningful work.”
Jim Collins, Good to Great.
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