The 4 Essential Human Needs

People come to work every day with 4 needs.

It’s the manager’s job to understand that they exist and to play their part in meeting them.

Doing so is the key to employee engagement. To accessing people’s resourcefulness, initiative, and creativity.

So, what are the 4 human needs?

They can be simply expressed as The Four Me’s.

  1. Know Me.
  2. Value Me.
  3. Focus Me.
  4. Grow Me.

Let’s explore them in more detail.


Managers often expect 100% – yet know little about the people they manage.

It’s a strange bargain. One that goes like this; “I expect your full commitment, yet I won’t make a sincere effort to get to know you and to understand what makes you tick.”

They tell me people should be self-motivated. This is true. They should be. Almost everyone starts off that way.

The problem in organisations is people become demotivated.

Managers underestimate the role they play in allowing this to happen.

It’s the inequality in the bargain which gets the ball rolling.

Know me does not of course mean acting out of character or being inappropriate.

But it does mean making a genuine attempt to see the person as a living, breathing, whole human being. Not as a means to an end – a cog in the wheel whose needs are invisible and irrelevant.

Which leads to the second ME …


Knowing allows for valuing. Making a place for what is important to the other person.

The manager’s fear is that doing this will make them appear soft and touchy feely. That it will cause them to lose control. To be taken advantage of.

In fact, it’s quite the opposite.

Remember the goal always is to access people’s resourcefulness, initiative, and creativity. Those “human only” qualities that make the biggest difference to an organisation.

Too often we get compliance, even resistance instead. Research confirms this.

Gallup consistently tells us that large numbers of the workforce are either unengaged or actively disengaged.

Would you?

Meeting these first 2 needs doesn’t take a special skill or more time. It takes a realisation.

The realisation that management is a noble profession. One which gives you influence and the opportunity to impact the quality of people’s lives.

These two ME’s lay the foundation of mutual respect in a relationship. This creates the climate for what comes next.


This is about clarity and direction. (And eliminating confusion.)

I know it’s obvious, but this is the manager’s job.

People really do expect their manager to know and communicate what is most important. And to direct the flow of work and effort.

Some managers say people don’t like to be micromanaged. Almost always this is an abdication.

So much of what people do in an organisation is unnecessary.

Jim Collins thinks it’s as high as 60%. Imagine … people could stop doing half of what they do every day, and it will actually help the organisation!

People DO have a need to be focussed. To be relevant. To direct their resourcefulness, initiative, and creativity to work that is worthwhile.

For this they rely on the manager.

This gets us to the final ME …


Grow me is a covenant.

It’s an agreement between two people born out of trust and respect.

Often the manager will see more potential in the person than they see in themselves.

Now it’s about closing the gap. Elevating the person to the level of their potential.

You do this by creating the conditions for growth. By raising the standards and expecting more.

Obviously it also includes support. But excludes wrapping them in cotton wool.

People grow the most when they have responsibility and experience the consequences of their actions.

Now you’re not a manager any more.

You are a source of inspiration. Fulfilling your noble duty. Allowing your belief in their potential and the standards you’ve set to be the magnet that pulls them up.

This is your ultimate purpose.

To use your platform and position to grow people. To serve and to help them reach their highest potential.

We love to hear from you. Please comment below. What is the managers ultimate purpose?

If you’d like to be in touch please call me on +27 82 894 4288 or mail me on

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