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Human Resources

Seven psychological needs that underlie ‘problem’ behavior

IbyIMD+ Published 26 January 2024 in Human Resources • 11 min read • Audio availableAudio available

Executives often struggle to lead teams effectively because they are oblivious to the psychological factors that shape human behavior. Understanding and recognizing these factors opens the door to better outcomes.

Perennial behavioral and organizational cultural issues such as a poor feedback culture, organizational politics, conflict avoidance, and micromanagement are often thought of as aberrant behaviors. They are not. They are normal expressions of powerful psychological needs that are often subconscious and hidden.  

The usual approaches to dealing with these problems – discussing desired behavior and including them in company values, equipping people with tools, and rewarding and punishing behavior – are often ineffective.  

But we continue regardless. We launch a new set of aspirational values and organizational leadership principles. We talk about the importance of empowerment and the leaders swear to it. We run training sessions on giving and receiving feedback. And we call out political behavior. Yet, little changes.  

Why? Because these approaches treat behavioral issues as if they were cognitive in nature, assuming that employees need to understand what to do, why it…

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