Why Your Team's Wants and Needs Matter

November 22, 2019

What is the difference between a want and a need?

It’s easy to confuse the two, but ultimately, a need can be described as “something that solves an actual or imaginary problem” or “something that fulfils a basic requirement in order to survive”. A want however, is something that an individual would like to have.

It’s important to differentiate between the two, and we often do this on our survival courses and events by conducting a ‘Wants, Needs and Concerns exercise’ at the very beginning. We ask the participants to work through each category, and outline any worries they have and what they would like to get out of their time with us.

We did this at the very start of a bespoke four-day survival course in the US earlier this year. We were tasked with being the ice-breaker for a group of individuals who were about to embark on a 5 month-long personal development program, but who had never met before and mostly had very limited outdoors experience. As you can imagine, the concerns ranged from “where do we go to the bathroom?” to “am I fit enough?”. Their needs seemed to be relatively similar with the bathroom topic becoming fairly prominent. Their wants however, included areas such as “developing confidence”, “experiencing something new” and “challenging myself”. We spent a solid 1.5 hours with the group, discussing each facet of these areas to give them an opportunity to elaborate and evaluate.

On the last day, we discussed these areas again, and resoundingly the group all agreed that their wants had been achieved. They had challenged themselves and overcome obstacles, which ultimately led to their increased confidence and feelings of team-bonding. They had a shared-experienced that was completely unique to them, which brought them closer together. In evaluating this, they deemed their needs and concerns to have been valid initially, but unexpectedly found themselves to much more adaptable than they first thought. Their worries soon dissolved amongst the increased feelings of confidence and camaraderie.

This stage of highlighting wants, needs and concerns is vital to our process so that we may understand our clients and participants better ahead of their course or event. But it also gives them an opportunity to highlight and reflect on their own achievements.

So perhaps give it a go next time you are about to embark on a project with your team. See what points pop up and use this to your advantage.