If your goal is to motivate and engage employees and help them to become self-actualized, and you like a good Venn diagram, then you’ll appreciate what is called a “three circles” diagram. As you probably guessed, this diagram has three circles (see the nearby figure):

  • The first circle represents what the employee likes to do. Engaged employees sincerely like the job they’re doing. They want to do a good job and grow in their positions.

  • The second circle represents what the employee is good at. Beyond the need and desire to do a particular job, an engaged employee has or obtains — then continuously improves — the necessary skills.

  • The third circle represents what needs to get done. Obviously, companies employ people to perform certain functions or duties, and those functions and duties must be fulfilled.


The more these circles overlap, the more engaged the employee will be. For example, if an employee really likes filing and the employee has a knack for it and it needs to get done, then you have a recipe for an intrinsically motivated employee who is reaching the top of Maslow’s pyramid.

Of course, what a person enjoys may not always entirely coincide with what he’s good at doing. Take someone, for example who loves playing golf. However, she is not any good at it. (As her lifelong golf buddies would say, she stinks.) It’s more common to enjoy what you are good at, but these situations do come up.

Conversely, many employees don’t particularly enjoy cranking through spreadsheets, but for whatever reason, some seem to have an aptitude for it. In other words, if the goal here is to improve engagement, there’s some work to do!