How to motivate employees: the holy grail of great management. Where does it begin, where does it end? In the first article on evolutionary leadership we set the foundations of the employee engagement conversation. We talked about the seven stages of psychological development and how they can help us view the human mind from three perspectives: the socialized mind, the self-authorative mind and the self-transformative mind. These three types have been explored in the studies of Robert Kegan and Lisa Laskow – Harvard professors – as cited by the Barret Values Centre. In this second article we will explore the first type.

Understanding the socialized mind helps us motivate employees with basic roles

As a dependent mind, the socialized mind`s response to a situation or a request is strongly influenced by what it believes others want to hear. Its main goal is to stay aligned with the group it belongs to, having a limited ability for independent thinking. Its primary needs are survival, relationship and self-esteem. This is why people operating with a socialized mind are unlikely to want a leadership position. They would resent the destabilizing effect such a change would bring about in their carefully constructed relationships. In the figure below we can see what motivates employees who operate with a socialized mind:

motivate employees

People with socialized minds mostly view their work as a job. They are rarely highly engaged by their work and feel motivated by incentives which allow them to satisfy their basic needs. A manager would be unrealistic to expect socialized mind-type employees to engage more. They value income and safety, friendship and respect, recognition and rewards. They manifest little loyalty for their current employer when finding a new, more advantageous offer from a different organization. They enjoy simple tasks which they can easily master and resent handling complex situations.

Employees with socialized minds need predictability and safety

People who operate with socialized minds are not happily responsive to change. They stay vigilant and concerned about everything that is happening around them which involves a change in their status quo. They prefer stability and they get anxious and fearful when feeling that the satisfaction of their basic needs might be threatened in any way. They want to protect what they have and their work output is deeply affected by reorganisation plans or cutbacks. Socialized minds are mostly present in organisations that employ mechanics, labourers, retail or service personnel in relatively low-complexity, repetitive work. If a manager meets their basic needs – pay and safety, friendship and respect, and recognition and rewards – they offer reliability in return.

Now that you understand what a socialized mind involves, how about sharing your experience with such colleagues or employees? We`re always up for a new conversation.

In the next and third article of our evolutionary leadership series we will explore the inner workings of the self-authorative mind and in our endeavour to untangle how to motivate employees. Until then, feel free to take our Full Spectrum Leadership Assessment to see how your leadership style aligns with the seven stages of psychological development.

Photo by Warren Wong on Unsplash

Laurentiu Horubet

Founder & Consultant @ Let's — Talk | Leadership Consultancy