Basic Human Psychological Needs

I'm currently reading the book, Drive, by Daniel Pink. In the Introduction the author sets out the 4 main psychological needs, much like the physical needs set out by Maslow. Here are the psychological needs:

  1. We need to feel we belong.
  2. We need to feel valued.
  3. We need to feel we’re good at something.
  4. We need to feel we have a secure future.

That's a lot of feeling, but this is profound. It corresponds directly to what I've said before (and possibly written here) that I look for in an employer: money, people, and work. Money helps to pay for things, and it helps to show value in someone (granted, it's an extrinsic value). People helps define the belonging. And work defines that we are good at something. But the last psychological need, I missed that.

There is a definite need to feel secure for the future. If one is not sure what is going to happen 3 months from now, or even a year, that puts a great weight on their shoulders. That weight will reduce happiness and motivation, and eventually end up with a situation where an employee will leave a company for greener pastures.

To the people managers out there: Pay attention to the four psychological needs. They are the key to reducing attrition in your company.

I was speaking recently with a CISO and I asked him how he is able to motivate his direct reports. Among his answer was a nuggest of wisdom: the one metric in which he holds himself accountable is the happiness and retention of the employees in his department. This is a great insight and I've never thought of this being the responsibility of a CxO before. I probed further and came up with this summary.

To the CxOs out there: Consider that everytime someone leaves your department, that is a direct knock against your performance. Sure, one knock every once in awhile isn't so bad and maybe even the employee is leaving on a good note, but a company facing a bout of repeated attrition is uncovering a serious flaw in leadership ability. That ability is to motivate and retain employees and, since that is now failing, you have to consider fixing yourself immediately before the situation gets worse, or consider stepping aside for someone else to attempt a fix.

Harsh? Possibly. But let's not rush to judgement and defensiveness. Motivating and retaining employees is a critical requirement at companies these days. It is incredibly difficult (almost impossible) to find skilled, aware, and available employees who "give a s__t". Go ask the nearest recruiter how difficult it is to find a competent software developer, DevOps or, even worse, a DevSecOps person. They'd rather find you a unicorn.