Where Does a Coat Closet Fit in Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs?

November 16, 2011

Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs

Think of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs as you read the following story:

A client recently told me of her excitement at inheriting a VP’s office. In her organization, like many others, the CEO gets a couch, two sitting chairs, small conference table, and large desk; VPs get a smaller desk, credenza coat closet, and two chairs for guests; while directors get the same, less a coat closet. As a director, my client couldn’t wait to hang up her coat! Then maintenance came to pick up the moveable coat closet and put it in storage.

Okay, so maybe it’s unfair that one director gets a closet and others don’t. But how can organizations think that denying coat closets works in their best interests?

Rather than hang her coat on the back of her chair, I told my client to hang it on the floor. That move–right out of the adaptive leadership playbook–would convey a clear and powerful message. When assets are put in storage–assets that would be used and appreciated by employees–it’s an act of disrespect. Organizations shouldn’t be taking closets away. They should be working to deliver them to more employees.

If Maslow were still around, I suspect he would have put mobile closets in his hierarchy of needs. What basic employee needs can you address? What do you have in storage?

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