McClelland’s needs theory

David C. McClelland has contributed to the theories of motivation by highlighting the importance of three basic needs to understand motivation. They are achievement needs, affiliation needs, and power needs. McClelland’s initial work centered on the need for achievement.

Need for achievement
Achievement-motivated people thrive on pursuing and attaining goals. People with a high need for achievement have an intense desire for success. They typically seek competitive situations in which they can achieve results through their own efforts and which allow them to obtain immediate feedback on how they are doing. They take a realistic approach to risk. People with high need for achievement are characterized by restlessness and willingness to work long hours. Individuals with high need for achievement can be a valuable source of creativity and innovative ideas in organizations. Supervisors who want to motivate achievement-oriented employees need to set challenging, but reachable goals and provide immediate feedback about their performance.

Need for affiliation
Need for affiliation refers to the desire to maintain warm, friendly relationships with others. Affiliation-motivated people are usually friendly and like to socialize with others. They suffer pain when they are rejected. They usually exhibit the following characteristics:
i. They strive to maintain pleasant social relationships.
ii. They enjoy a sense of intimacy and understanding.
iii. They are ready to console and help others in trouble.
iv. They love to engage in friendly interaction with others.
To motivate individuals with a high need for affiliation, managers should provide them with a congenial and supportive work environment in which they can meet both corporate goals and their high affiliation needs by working with others. In situations that require a high level of cooperation with and support of others, including clients and customers, individuals with a high need for affiliation prove to be assets for an organization.

Need for power
The need for power refers to the desire to be influential and to have an impact on a group. Power-motivated individuals see almost every situation as an opportunity to seize control or dominate others. They are willing to assert themselves when a decision needs to be made. The power motive has significant implications for organizational leadership and for the informal political aspects of organizations.
The need for power is manifested in two forms: personal and institutional. People with high need for personal power try to dominate others by demonstrating their ability to wield power. They often run into difficulties as managers because they attempt to use the efforts of others for their own benefits. In contrast, individuals with a high need for institutional power focus on working along with others to solve problems and achieve organizational goals. McClelland’s work suggests that individuals with a high need for institutional power become the best managers, because they are able to coordinate the efforts of others to achieve long-term organizational goals.

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