How to see and unlock your employees’ infinite potential

blog, media, Symmetrical Rebel

07 August, 2019

How to see and unlock your employees’ infinite potential

Mark Smartt

Mark Smartt

General Manager UK & USA

The Incubator of Infinite Growth

This will be straight to the point. Do you see the infinite potential in each of your employees? Did you ever consider that by unlocking their true potential, your business could grow infinitely as well? This article may challenge what you think by introducing a critically important enhancement to Abraham Maslow’s “Hierarchy of Needs”. The article will address what is needed to get your employees to a maximum level of creativity, development, and fulfillment which the renowned psychologist coined as “Self-Actualization”. It will also aid you in guiding your employees to consistently remain and develop within this optimal environment. Each employee’s potential is infinite. The quicker you realize this and help them get to and remain in this transformative incubator of infinite growth, the infinitely more they will help your business to grow.


PSYCH 101: Your Employees’ Motivators


The diagram below summarizes the simple, yet important psychology lesson about the needs and motivators of each person. Simply put, people prioritize and address needs in a certain order. According to Maslow, a person’s natural instincts and subconscious mind will focus mostly or entirely on satisfying the most urgent of needs before he or she can address other needs. This means that a person’s first motivators will be to ensure the acquisition of food, water, security, health and financial stability before he or she addresses psychological needs such as developing relationships with family, friends, and employer as well as consequently addressing self-actualization needs such as developing other talents and fulfilling his or her maximum potential. It portrays that only when basic needs are met, one will desire to satisfy needs connected to continual progression and development.


“Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs.” 


The Crippling Cap


Maslow’s “Hierarchy of Needs” has been taught in psychology classes as well as business and human resource trainings around the world since its first publication in 1943 but there is something seriously wrong with this diagram which drastically limits one’s potential

A triangle has 3 sides and 3 vertices and the contents of a triangle are constrained within its perimeter. Reflecting upon what the triangle represents, can the evolving nature of the human mind and it’s motivators really be restrained within a certain perimeter? Is there a point in the triangle of a person’s life where they have conquered all motivators and the possibility for a change and/or increase in motivation does not exist? The “Hierarchy of Needs” diagram itself teaches that the pinnacle motivator of a person is to progress to become better and better and experience more. But this is eventually capped by the tip of the triangle.

This leads us to question then, does a person develop and progress to a certain point where he or she hits a concrete ceiling and has fully evolved and all growth is capped? Of course not. Surely a person can’t truly satisfy or extinguish the possibility of all motivators and experience everything life has to offer, fully develop all talents and learn everything there is to know. There is no cap to human motivation, accomplishment, and potential.


Programmed to Evolve and Progress


Humans are instinctively creatures of continual growth and progression programmed to evolve. Each year people are running faster, living healthier or making machines which perform human functions with more precision and efficiency. Individuals are becoming smarter, and accomplishing more and more. Think about the history of mankind over the last 2,000 years and how many innovations and improvements people are contributing to society at a more exponential rate each decade.

The forecast shows no sign of a future drought to human accomplishment. This instinctive code in our DNA will continue to help us evolve as we are motivated to do more and more. We subconsciously desire to improve and be more efficient. A person instinctively longs to become better and better. There will never be an end to this process.


The Proper Paradigm


I’m currently listening to a New York Times Best Seller called “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People”. Renowned author and experienced leader Stephen Covey, teaches a great point emphasizing the importance of paradigm shifts and the positive effect that can come into our lives when we choose to see things differently and for how they really are. If we look at things from a different perspective, we will gain additional insights. Better yet, if we see the real truth behind a problem or situation, we will be able to come up with a more correct course of action for improvement. Therefore, a more proper paradigm in which we should view ours and our employees’ motivators and potential is with an uncapped diagram of this hierarchy of needs. I call it:


“Maslow’s Uncapped Hierarchy of Needs”


To better represent the correlation that our hierarchy of needs has upon our motivators, we need to turn the vertex of the triangle into a channel. This shows that when we have sufficiently satisfied basic and psychological needs, it’s now clear that the desire to achieve our full potential, pursue other talents, develop creativity, and experience greater purpose in our life never stops. The motivators and potential of the individual is not restricted, and one can continue progressing as long as other needs are met. There is no limit to this last area of motivational needs, there is no limit to human potential.


Infinite Employee Growth = Infinite Business Growth


So what does this mean for you? Straight to the point again; you must help your employees reach this channel of self-actualization and stay there for them to experience infinite growth. It’s really quite simple, the more efficiently and thoroughly their basic and psychological needs are satisfied, the more time they can bask in this incubator of growth and continue in the process of personal and skill development. Furthermore, If your people grow personally and develop new skills, they will graft these skills into their work, teams, and projects and greatly help your business to grow.

Instead of having your employees worrying about how they can pay their bills on time to provide for food, shelter, safety and comfort to themselves and their family, they can focus their stress-free thoughts on performing their best work and becoming their best self. This will naturally cause your business as a whole to also perform its best work and become its best self.


How to Facilitate an Atmosphere of Infinite Growth


With that being said, It’s critically important that you do everything you can to provide your employees with solutions and benefits to satisfy employees’ basic needs. If employers help their employees to have a thorough and constant satisfaction of these fundamental needs, they give them the greatest chance to not only achieve this realm of self-actualization, but enable them to remain there for as long as possible. The employee won’t have to worry about falling back down to address basic needs in the future. They can more fully focus their efforts on optimizing their continual progression through that infinite channel by satisfying their self-actualization needs.

It’s similar in construction, a skyscraper can only be erected to a certain height correlated directly to how strong and secure its foundation is. Or in nature, a tree can only grow to certain heights and stand through storms if it has a strong base and deep roots. So it is with the nature of humans. Your employees can only stretch for the skies if their basic needs are satisfied. This will give them a stronger foundation to build upon. Furthermore, even through the storms of life, your employees will also continue to grow by remaining happy, safe, and focused as that strong base of satisfied basic needs stays firmly rooted.

It is not possible for your employees to fully develop or expand critical skills and talents if their basic needs are not met. If your employees do not evolve, your business will not evolve. This is critical to comprehend.

How to Satisfy the Basic Needs of Employees?


This may be a pretty obvious question, but according to PWC’s 2019 Employee Financial Wellness Survey, we obviously are not doing a good job at satisfying the basic needs of our employees. It included some pretty eye-opening numbers that:

67% of employees are stressed about their financial situation

49% of employees find it difficult to meet household expenses on time each month

49% of millenials say that they are distracted by finances at work

44% of employees feel like their employer cares about their financial well-being

Think about what these numbers mean to you specifically. This means that odds are, 67% of the people in your business are stressed financially, 49% of your workers live paycheck to paycheck, 49% of the lifeblood and future of your company are distracted at work trying to take care of their basic needs, and the little cherry on top of this sad sundae, 46% of your employees feel like you don’t even care about their basic needs and financial well-being.

We can’t just ignore these numbers or say or we will address them at some future point. The cost is too much. It would hurt you to ignore these numbers because it is hurting your employees. In order for them to put in focused work day in and day out and consistently improve and innovate, they can not be constantly stressed and worried about their basic needs. Also think about the reduced turnover and improved recruiting you could experience with this more caring culture.

This doesn’t necessarily mean you have to raise your employees’ salaries to help provide for their basic needs. Financial struggles and paycheck to paycheck living exists among all income levels. What could be helpful though, is choosing to invest in the actual education and counseling for employees regarding their finances such as creating and living within their budget or training about saving and investing rather than the rarely-used monthly gym membership. You could offer an improved care package of financial benefits such as early payday withdrawals, instantaneous and transparent access to needed capital, cheaper financing options, etc… instead of the costly paid vacation. If you help them utilize these tools and learn these things, they can pay for their own vacation and then some. Financial well being causes employees the greatest stress. Solving this greatest pain should be first and foremost on our minds.


Back to the Basics


When considering an adjusted course of action, all we really have to do is go back to the basics. We can focus our compensation and benefit packages on first ensuring employees’ basic needs are being met. Again, why is this critically important? Lets review:

  1. Humans are instinctively creatures of continual growth and progression. The possible motivation to achieve one’s full potential, pursue other talents, and develop creativity in one’s life is uncapped.

  2. The motivation and ability to achieve and continue through self-actualization grows as each of the other basic and physiological needs are met.

  3. Employers should focus on deeply and thoroughly satisfying employees’ basic needs. This gives employees the strongest foundation and greatest chance for continual development and infinite growth.

In closing, I strongly encourage all employers, executives, leaders and human resource managers to remember the true paradigm of your employees” motivators and infinite potential. You really can unlock their infinite potential and guide them towards continual development if you first satisfy their basic needs. I encourage you to jot down some of your thoughts or ideas which you had while reading this article and use it to start your improved course of action. Also feel free to leave a comment, send a message and continue the discussion on this topic.

And remember, you are the guide to get your employees to this incubator of infinite growth, creativity and development. The quicker you realize this and give them the key to unlock their infinite potential, the infinitely more they will help your business to grow.

Self Actualization – “to become everything one is capable of becoming”

                    -Abraham Maslow


Author: Bryton Wood, International Human Resources and Benefits Consultant,