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Last updated on 12/9/20

Understand the way you function

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Learning why you behave the way you do takes time. In a professional context, it is essential to understand what motivates you, what principles you apply and how you interact with others.

The more you understand these three aspects of your personality,

  • the better you will be able find your place;

  • the more successfully you will be able to build a transparent, effective professional relationship, while maintaining your well-being; and

  • the more confidence you will have in yourself.

Become aware of your needs

Look through Maslow’s five universal needs below, adapted to a professional teamwork environment.  When you assess your needs, take into account two factors:

  • the objective part (for example, are your work premises equipped with excellent or limited facilities?)

  • the subjective part (What will also count is how you value each of your needs and how you prioritize them. For example, excellent computer equipment might contribute to satisfying your "survival needs", but you may give more importance to your "need for a sense of belonging" or to a good atmosphere in the team.)

Can you classify your seven essential needs, from most to least important?

1) The need for survival (physiological needs):

  • The work facilities are fully operational, quiet, bright, well-equipped, heated in the winter and cool in the summer.

  • The location is a reasonable distance from your home and has facilities for lunch.

  • Your work schedule allows time to recover physically and helps you achieve good work and private life balance.

  • The salary is fair in relation to the workload. It enables you to meet your needs (and those of your family, etc.).

2) The need for safety:

  • You have a safe mode of transportation to and from your workplace.

  • The company is well managed and provides economic security through regular payment of wages and job security.

  • Work relationships feel secure; co-workers show politeness, calmness and cooperation among peers and within the hierarchy.

  • Privacy is respected.

  • Your mission is "doable", i.e. you are given clear, realistic, achievable objectives.

3) The need for social belonging:

  • You receive regular, constructive feedback.

  • Internal practices and values are known and applied: dress code, how to address people, the degree of formality in relationships, etc.

  • You are included on the internal mailing lists in a targeted, transparent manner.

  • You are invited to all meetings and internal events that relate to your tasks.

4) The need for recognition or esteem:

  • The team and those above you recognize and praise your achievements.

  • The expression of your skills and your suggestions is possible and well received.

  • Your personal identity is respected: self-image, political views, ethnic origins, cultural/religious practices, gender, age, disability/health, sexual orientation, marital status, dress style.

  • The expression of personal identities, when related to behaviour, is self-regulating in harmony with the group’s practices and values.

5) The need to realise one’s potential, for self-actualization:

  • The work is challenging and autonomous, with a sufficient variety of tasks, and/or it offers the potential for advancement.

  • You can hone your skills and creativity through the tasks you perform.

  • Your tasks are adjusted to your personal values.

  • Internal training is available, enabling you to regularly grow and develop your skills.

In order to correctly interpret your choices, remember that these five basic needs are considered universal for everyone, at all hierarchical levels, from employees to top management. According to Maslow, the need for survival and safety must be sufficiently satisfied (at least 40%) before trying to satisfy the three subsequent needs.

However, satisfying some needs in your private life may become less important in the work environment.

Some of your needs will compete with others.

  • Your need for safety may limit your need to realise your potential, which requires risk-taking. This is an internal competition between needs.

  • Your needs may be delayed or not met due to the other members of the team (having to share), or for interpersonal reasons (e.g. your introverted manager fails to recognise you). This is external competition between needs.

Identify your personal values

Having your role and work environment in harmony with your personal values will help you fulfill your potential.

On a more unconscious level, it is these values that in fact determine the way in which you try to satisfy your needs in general. Your value system is the set of principles that guides your actions. It is the product of your education, your character, your environment and your experiences of life.

1) To help you identify your personal value priorities, ask yourself the following questions:

These last few weeks (months, years), what personal and work-related activities, events or achievements have I felt most positive about and why?

In the same period, what activities/events have strongly displeased/troubled/irritated you and why? 

The first question allows you to identify values that are important for you. The second allows you to identify what you don't like: if you hated your recent back-packing trip across the Andes with a friend and vowed never to do any such thing again, you perhaps place "control" or "comfort” high on your list of values! Or if while on public transport, you witnessed an argument that deeply shocked you and that you kept thinking about, perhaps this is because the argument went against your values of respect, politeness or justice.

2) Then, choose the 7 most important values for you from the list below, and rank them:

truthfulness

tenacity

collaboration

clarity

efficiency

sincerity

reliability

adventurousness

passing on

pleasure

confidence

order

goal setting

animal rights

spontaneity

independence

cooperation

courage

flexibility

service

success

competition

money

love

passion

commitment

freedom

humour

integrity

life

politeness

responsibility

honour

honesty

fairness

balance

innovation

originality

loyalty

obedience

respect

frankness

authenticity

spirituality

self-control

rights of minorities

strength

comfort

power

excellence

safety

control

wisdom

team spirit

creativity

friendship

mutual aid

happiness

learning

generosity

peace

health

discretion

3) Describe the "rights" and the "duties" that these 5 values imply:

For example, if for the value "frankness", your right is "I tell people what I think of their behaviour”, but you have trouble with this on a reciprocal basis (that other people tell you what they think of your behaviour), then you are not consistent. A more appropriate value would be "freedom" or "spontaneity": "I like to say what I think when I think it".

Here is an example:

Values

My rights (examples)

My duties (examples)

Freedom

I like to tell funny stories and I think we should be able to joke about everything.

Everyone can express their views, even if I don’t agree with them.

Justice

Job insecurity is unfair.

I allocate the sale to my colleague who spent a lot of time with the client even though I was the one who put it through the till.

Equality

Men and women’s wages should be equal when they carry out the same tasks/have the same skills.

I am prepared to change my summer vacation slot to allow a team member to go away with his family.

Respect

It is important that my team members respect my privacy.

I never repeat private information that a team member has entrusted to me to a third party.

Learning

I should be able to benefit from the latest training in my profession.

I like to pass on my expertise to those that are starting in the profession.

Independence

I should not have to work additional hours to make up for the repeated errors of a team member.

I plan my holidays and absences to avoid overloading my teammates with extra work while I am away.

Politeness

I like my team members to take the time to greet me in the morning.

Even when I am overwhelmed with work, I always take a minimum amount of time to respond to my team members.

4) Finally, are you A or B?

 

Value: truthfulness

Value: fairness

Principle-based morals

Whatever happens, I will not lie, whatever the consequences.

It would be impossible to exploit a co-worker for the benefit of the team.

Consequence-based morals

I don’t like lying, but I might omit the truth if it seriously harms one or several people.

I understand that it might be necessary to "sacrifice" a team member for the collective good or the achievement of objectives, even if it is me.

Summary

At this stage, you know more about your needs and personal values. You also know more about what causes your actions and the principles that guide them. Well done!

  • Knowing yourself involves identifying your needs and your value system.

  • The five basic, universal needs, as defined by Maslow are:

    1. The need for survival

    2. The need for safety

    3. The need for social belonging

    4. The need for esteem

    5. The need for self-actualization

  • Personal values can be identified by finding a fair balance between what you define as your rights and what you define as your duties.

Let's look at how your emotions operate and what drives your actions. This is important because effective teamwork requires a certain level of emotional maturity.

Example of certificate of achievement
Example of certificate of achievement