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Managing your workplace: A look at management theories

Leading a team, as with most things within the business itself, can be challenging, but also rewarding. It requires a certain level of knowledge, skill and patience to lead a successful team towards their goal, and ensure they operate efficiently.

There are several theories that exist to help you manage a team with ease, each having their own advantages and disadvantages.

The Nudge Theory

The nudge theory is a flexible concept that can be adapted to a range of groups or individuals to encourage change. The centre point of the theory is to help others think appropriately and make better and smarter decisions, both being skills which are key to any business.

The main concept of the theory is to entice, or nudge, people towards a particular choice. While this stands in the way of "free choice", it can help maintain organisational standards and keep the company flowing in the way that you believe it should.

Let's put this into practice. If a company wanted to encourage its employees to eat healthier, it could do so by nudging them towards healthier choices such as introducing free fruit and placing it within arms reach and within their sight. By seeing it and knowing it's free (which is a bonus with anything), it encourages them to become involved. Another option a company could do is ban junk food from its workplace. This is the opposite to the nudge theory as although it's nudging employees towards a choice, it's restricting the choice too.

When it comes to leading a team, the same theory can be applied. If there's negative attitude or lack of motivation within an office for example, moving or repositioning items can influence decisions and actions. Adding motivational posters to the office are a common way to help encourage positivity and motivate employees within the office itself.

In a similar way, making targets visible can help motivate employees and nudge them towards the end goal. Introducing competitions, such as prizes for the person who hits the target first or similar, can help nudge employees in the right direction - in a similar way as a commission based pay system could work.

However, you do have to consider several factors before implementing things such as targets. While it may motivate some of those to do better than their peers, consider those who struggle a bit. While their methods could be potentially be improved with things such as additional training, seeing that they are performing lower than their colleagues may not motivate them as well as expected.

Hierarchy of Needs

Another common theory is the hierarchy of needs. The most common type was introduced by Abraham Maslow as a way to show that humans can be better motivated when their needs are met. This is often represented with a triangle:

Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs

Each tier represents a group of needs, starting at the bottom. The theory is that each tier needs to be satisfied in order from level 5 to 1 (bottom to top). If a person has basic life needs such as food and drink, then they are satisfied at that level as their needs are met. Once that level has been satisfied, then level 4 can be worked on - protection, security, limits etc.

The theory is to ensure that, in a business, your employees are satisfied at the basic levels. By doing this, their energy and motivation is driven towards the upper levels of wanting to achieve or gain a reputation within their workplace - "Employee of the Month" for example would be a good target for someone looking to boost their own recognition. And once they have been recognised and fulfilled in the lower levels, then they will work on driving their own growth and ability forward.

But the key thing to note here is that top two levels (esteem and self-actualisation) are the two more relating to the workplace, while the lower ones are more about basic needs and life at home.

What this suggests is that while a business can help meet some of the underlying needs of their employees, they need to consider their life outside of the workplace. If there are issues at home, rather than aggravate the situation with deadlines and pressure, nurture them and assist them in ways you believe could help.


They are both two different methods, and just two of many. Both follow good principles and have been in play for some time. Consider how these could fit into your workplace and how they could benefit both the business, and your employees themselves.

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