The Real Cost of Not Meeting the Needs of Your Team

Jeanet Wade
October 13, 2020

One of the most common questions I hear from the managers and leaders I work with is, “How do I get the most out of the people in our organization?” What they’re looking to increase is a different kind of ROI – something I call “Return on Individual.”

Anytime a leader wants something from those they are dedicated to leading and managing they have to ask themselves, “Have I given these people everything they need in order to do what I am asking them to do and be the team I’m asking them to be?”

If I asked you what you want from the group of people you call your team, you’d probably give me a wish list that includes words like innovation, resilience, and adaptability, just to name a few. You might also say you want them to be empowered to make suggestions, and able to handle criticism. Am I right?

Those attributes are all the result of just one of The 6 Facets of Human Needs™ (6Cs) that I wrote about in The Human Team (coming from ForbesBooks in February, 2021). What you’re wanting is Confidence and it’s last of the 6Cs. It’s number six for a reason – because unless you are successfully meeting the other five of these universal human needs you cannot possibly be creating confidence for the people on your team.

When leaders instill confidence in people they build teams that have trust in themselves and each other. They build teams that not only take failure in stride, but who actually embrace it. They build teams that aren’t prey to the fear and doubt that can easily undermine the best ideas. They build teams that drive momentum and innovation, learn quickly, and pivot easily.

If that sounds like a Dream Team come true, just know that it’s entirely within your reach. But it’s more than just having the “right people on the bus.” It really comes down to making sure that you’re giving those people what they need to reach their potential.  

It’s important to understand that The 6 Facets of Human Needs™ aren’t about understanding the individuals on your team, but rather about understanding what all people need in order to thrive, to be both productive and fulfilled in their work.

Each of the six facets is essential, if any of these needs aren’t met you will see the symptoms throughout your organization. And each facet is dependent on the ones listed before it. Confidence, the sixth facet, is actually the culmination of the other five. Let’s unpack all six and I’ll bet you will recognize some of your missed opportunities for increasing your ROI.

#1 Clarity

First on the list is clarity. True clarity about everything from the big vision, to roles and expectations, to company and individual goals results in a team that can be effective even when they have to navigate conditions that are uncertain or ambiguous.

The opposite of clarity is confusion. If you see that your team is frustrated, disorientated, or misaligned with you, with each other, or with the strategy and goals you’ve established they are probably lacking clarity.

#2 Connection

Humans have a basic survival need to feel connected, to have a sense of belonging to a group of people who share something bigger than themselves. We’re actually herd animals, we feel safer when we’re part of a larger group, and studies indicate that a lack of connection creates a similar response in the brain as the neurological response to physical pain. And when we do feel secure in our place as a part of something larger we actually produce oxytocin, the chemical referred to as “the love hormone.”

Personal connection is important, that is a belonging that is dependent on select relationships within the team. However, we want people to feel connected to more than a few of their peers or leaders, we want them to also feel connected to the business – to feel that sense of belonging through a shared culture, physical or virtual spaces, and especially through core values.

Connection is dependent on clarity because when we are confused as to the bigger vision, or when we don’t have clarity about our own role or what is expected of us, we cannot completely feel like we belong to the team or the larger organization. We fear being “othered” or rejected from the “tribe” if we fail to perform or if we inadvertently do something that results in a threat or loss to our group. So the team member who is confused, frustrated, or unaligned, which happens when there is no clarity, will never feel secure in their connection to the people or the business.

#3 Contribution

It’s not possible to be maximizing the potential of your team if they aren’t contributing. But it’s more than just getting them to contribute, it’s clearing the way for them to contribute at the highest level and to the greatest degree possible.

Humans love to contribute. It’s what we contribute that creates value in the world, that validates us in our own eyes, that offers fulfillment and accomplishment. When our need to contribute isn’t met we often resort to open conflict or to passively going through the motions and doing the minimum required.

You’re probably already connecting the dots, or in this case, the facets. If we don’t have clarity we won’t know what contribution has value, so we won’t have the criteria to make a meaningful contributions. And, if we don’t feel connected to the organization we won’t have the motivation to contribute either.

#4 Challenge

We all love a good challenge, don’t we? It’s when we’re challenged that we often come alive. We engage in a process of practice and improvement that will lead to true mastery. We’re inspired to innovate, and to strive toward higher and higher goals. Without good challenges we’d never realize our true potential.

But the emphasis here is on “good.” A challenge that’s offered with the intention of building us up. A challenge that we feel is within our innate abilities. And we love a challenge most when we believe that it’s safe to fall down a few times before we master the art of walking, or to trip a few times before we learn to sail over the hurdles and cross the finish line.

Just imagine (or maybe you don’t have to imagine because it’s already happened to you) how it feels to be offered a challenge if you aren’t given clarity, or if you feel like the “other” or outsider, or if your contributions aren’t invited or welcome. That’s right, without the first three facets you can hand out challenges but they won’t meet the criteria for good challenges.

#5 Consideration

Consideration refers to making people feel seen, heard, and appreciated. It’s both about how each person on your team feels and how they make others feel. It’s knowing that you can have a voice. It’s said that one of our deepest desires is simply to matter, and even that many people who experience depression or who have attempted suicide say simply that they don’t think their life matters.

When this need is not met people feel disregarded and unvalued. Self-esteem suffers which diminishes their ability to rise to challenges, their willingness to contribute, their desire to connect to the organization or to welcome others into the tribe, and it certainly colors their perception of everything from the big vision to their role in achieving it. Napoleon was quoted as having said, “A soldier will fight long and hard for a piece of colored ribbon,” and I believe what he really meant was that we can inspire others to greatness when we provide them with genuine recognition of their contribution.

But here’s the thing, you aren’t truly considering the other person if you aren’t offering them clarity, or if you’re not offering them membership to the tribe in a way that allows them to feel deeply connected. You aren’t considering them if you don’t see their contribution or invite them to contribute. And you aren’t seeing or honoring their value and potential if you aren’t challenging them to grow and expand their mastery.

#6 Confidence

Which brings us finally to confidence. When you increase the confidence of your team you’ll create a growth-mindset organization that is able to run on all cylinders. You’ll have a team that meets the criteria on your wish list. But you can’t do it unless you first ensure that everyone has clarity, that they feel connected, that they feel safe and rewarded when they make meaningful contributions, that they’re being offered healthy challenges, and that they know they are considered, recognized, and appreciated.

I’d love to help you polish all of The 6 Facets of Human Needs™ to create a team that embodies qualities like being innovative, capable, resilient, and adaptable. If you’re ready to increase your Return on Individual you can start by scheduling a meeting with me. It’s an easy first step and I’m looking forward to providing you the tools to help you get the most from your “Human Team”!

Jeanet Wade, Certified EOS Implementer®