Ascending Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs with a Performance Review System

Posted by Andy • May 24, 2016 (Last modified July 29, 2018) • 2 min read

In 1943, humanist psychologist Abraham Maslow first published his “Hierarchy of Needs” theory as a model for how individuals within a society reach their full potential. The theory emphasizes an idea that all people have prepotent needs – If you are hungry, it’s difficult to focus on tasks for an upcoming project.


Maslow’s tool has been adapted many times since its inception to reflect its application in subcultures such as schools, families, and the workplace. Knowing that your employees need to have their basic needs met is a well-understood concept, but empowering those individuals to ascend this hierarchy and optimize performance takes intentional steps:


1: Setting Expectations – Basic Needs

Your employees need a baseline. By having a performance evaluation system that clearly outlines goals and expectations, they know what is required to maintain the safety of their employment.


2: Performance Notes – Belonging in Society

Using in-the-moment notes and feedback allows supervisors to show their employees where they are excelling and in which areas they can improve. Feedback can be uncomfortable to give and receive, but when it’s done right, supervisor and employee are empowered to create a society they want to work in.


Check out Making Performance Feedback Count


3: Evaluations – Esteem

When employees know their expectations and are able to have ongoing communication with their supervisors, they can enter into an evaluation with a strong awareness of self. Because you’ve been using a flexible tool throughout the year, your employees have had the opportunity to engage deeply in their roles.


4: Reporting – Self-Actualization

Maslow knew that overachieving is a rare occurrence. When managers have access to their data in an easy-to-read format, they reduce the risk of missing these milestone occasions. No one wants to lose a highly qualified employee, and lack of recognition can be a major factor in reduced employee retention.



When the channels for communication are open within your company, you provide your whole team the opportunity to create a workplace culture that is both meaningful and encourages productivity focused around mutual values. Take the next step toward shaping your workforce into a group of driven individuals by continuing this conversation with our post: Understanding Employee Happiness and Productivity With An Employee Evaluation System.

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