The American psychologist, David McClelland theorized the Needs Theory, also known as the three-dimensional theories. The three-dimensional theory further refines and builds upon Maslow's hierarchy of needs. So what does this model explain? It says that the need for achievement, power and affiliation are the three primary motivators that effect behavior and motivation of people from the managerial context.

All people are different, and each has specific motivations. Managers can use the knowledge of these aspects to understand and motivate organizational employees. A person may display motivational traits in each of the three dimensions. However, people will have a dominant personality type and will respond most favorably to one dimension over the others.


The need for achievement refers to people who yearn to master a task or achieve a greater cause. Motivation is realized when he or she accomplishes some sort of work function at the workplace. People motivated by success enjoy achievable work goals and prefer to work with other achievers. Achievers need feedback on their performance as a measure of the success.


People with the need for affiliation often prefer to spend time maintaining and building social relationships with supervisors and coworkers. It is important for people in this dimension to feel connected to and accepted by all. Any high-risk situation is avoided by people such as these because they would much rather be collaborative than indulge in competition. People motivated my affiliation often prefer to work in groups or as a team. They do enjoy feedback but prefer it in private as not to not alienate other team members.


The Need for power arises from an individual's personal desire to teach or influence others thoughts, opinions and actions. People of this dimension enjoy high-value work, especially task that allow them to emerge on top. People driven by power do not give up easily and are highly competitive. Power leaders, often have a high need for power but a low need for affiliation. Their action and drive for power can prove as a demotivator for others.

According to McClelland, organizational managers need to have a mix of all these characteristics. While individuals with a higher need for affiliation may not necessarily be top managers but, usually, do exceedingly well as team players.

In order for managers to apply these dimensions, they must understand the needs of the employee. Does the employee demonstrate a need for affiliation, achievement, or power? A manager must be willing to challenge themselves to look at people as all unique and having different abilities and needs. Work situation and goals can be set to provide motivational feedback an employee desires.

Author's Bio: 

Bobby Harris is a driven, experienced and knowledgeable professional within areas such as healthcare, childhood education, abuse intervention and crisis prevention; organizational leadership and developmental Disabilities /developmental Disabilities.
Bobby managed to earn his bachelors degree in social work,as well as his masters of science in health care administration; while boasting a professional curriculum within the health and human services branches dating back to the mid 90s!
On the premises of such an extensive background, Bobby is keen on sharing his wealth of insights, skills, tools, tips and consideration through his inspired and reader-friendly articles appearing in various publication, as well as on his own imprint, “Direct Support Solutions”