[WEBINAR] Manage your team's PTO effectively Learn More

Logo Vacation Tracker
Motivate Yourself According to McClelland’s Human Motivation Theory

Use McClelland’s Human Motivation Theory to Motivate Yourself

Reading Time: 2 minutes

Managing a team is never easy. Mainly because each team member has a different personality, and managers have to recognize and tune themselves to every one of them. Some people loathe public praise. Instead of being proud they’ve been publicly recognized by their boss, all they can feel is shame. Others, on the other hand, would thrive during those situations. McClelland’s Human Motivation Theory talks just about that: how to recognize and structure your feedback according to each person in the team. This theory can also help us understand better our motivation and make us more productive and energized to complete our daily tasks.

But first, what is McClelland’s Human Motivation Theory?

Almost 80 years ago, Abraham Maslow created his theory of needs. In this theory, he defined basic human needs, in order of their importance. This is how he made a list of four main needs humans have. Those are physiological needs, safety needs, and the need for belonging, self-esteem, and “self-actualization.” McClelland’s Human Motivation Theory uses Malow’s premises and says that regardless of our gender, culture, and age, we all have three motivating drivers with the one being the most dominant. Those three motivating drivers are achievement, power, and affiliation. McClelland’s Human Motivation Theory can help us determine what is our dominant motivator and use this information to influence our goal setting and motivate ourselves to task completion.


The need for achievement refers to our desire to accomplish something in our niche. If you’re a medical researcher, for instance, this would mean you managed to find a medicine for some disease. On the other hand, the need for affiliation involves our desire to connect and have relationships with other people. This can mean you need your manager’s approval and praise when you do something useful, as well as your preference to work in a team. And, lastly, the need for power refers to a desire to have influence or authority over other people.

Now that we know this, there’s a question: How to motivate ourselves by McClelland’s Human Motivation Theory?

To determine what motivates us, we have to understand our dominant driver. That’s why we have to think about how we’re reacting to conflict. We should ask ourselves if we like to give or receive directions and do we love to tackle complicated tasks, or we dread them. Thinking about the times, we felt motivated (or unmotivated) would help find our dominant driver too!


When we figured out what motivates us, the next step would be to implement what we have learned into action. For instance, those driven by achievement should focus on task completion. They should break one big task into smaller ones and enjoy the endorphin rush ticking off those tasks that will provide them with.


And lastly, don’t forget to tackle those solutions and adjust them to your needs. Sometimes the answer for your boosted motivation won’t be as obvious. However, the powerful insights you’ll get following the first two steps will help you find ways to change your setting for the best results.

Complete your survey