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The dark side of nice and friendly team members

If you work in a warm and friendly team environment, the chances are you have a number of affiliation driven people in your team. Harvard Psychologist David McLelland defined three primary motives that drive people Power, Achievement and Affiliation which are the key to understanding behaviour in the workplace...

All of these drivers have their benefits and their downsides but what could be the dark side of Affiliation?

Motivated by Affiliation?

People who are motivated by affiliation are either driven to be popular and liked or driven NOT to be unpopular or disliked. You only need to look at the celebrity world to find plenty of examples of this. Affiliation motivated people can be a great part of any team, they want cohesion and harmony and they are generally good at creating a good atmosphere within a team. They are an essential team player, they will sacrifice their own recognition for the good of the team. These are the perfect people to organise team parties, sort out the team birthday presents or bring a sense of fun to a difficult environment.

People who are motivated by affiliation need people, don’t put them on projects where they need to work a lot of time alone and don’t send them into very hostile meetings and expect a great result; send in your power or achievement people for this. Also their need to be popular (or avoid being unpopular) means that they will often avoid conflict so won’t confront difficult situations well and may give in too easily in negotiation situations.

The watch out for managers of affiliation motivated people is that they become the people who ‘say what they think you want them to say’ and so will agree to things they don’t really agree with and say yes to things they have no intention of doing. They will basically do anything so that you or others think they’re great (or don’t think they’re not great). This is a primary cause of miscommunication and lack of clarity in organisations, particularly if you have affiliation motivated people as middle managers (which is often the case). They will not deliver difficult messages well, may not do it at all or may just end up blaming senior management so as not to be unpopular with their own staff.

How healthy is your workplace? Find out more in this free quick quiz.

Become a professional communicator by learning more about how people tick and how to connect with them, motivate them and inspire them in one of our free webinars.

Beware the boundary violators - find out how to build and maintain healthy boundaries in this short video.

Blog photo by RawPixel on Unsplash

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