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DOUGLAS MCGREGOR AND HIS XY THEORY
Douglas McGregor is an American social psychologist, Harvard graduate class of 1935 and is one of the forefathers of contemporary management thinking. He began investigating the importance of people to business, and he believed something that CEOs today have come to comprehend: in order to thrive, an organization needs to harness the commitment, enthusiasm, and the intelligence of all their employees.
McGregor was a management professor at the MIT Sloan School of Management. One of his key contributions was a 1960 book he wrote called ‘The Human Side of Enterprise' which had an intense and major impact in management practice. Which also introduce a humanistic approach to the business aspects. In Detroit, as a youth he worked as a district manager for his grandfather's institute transient labor. He learnt a lot about concerns in management sector, from the retail aspects to people skills. McGregor helped found The Industrial Relations Sector in MIT; he rejoined the new faculty within MIT School of Industrial Management until his death in 1964.
McGregor said and proved that to truly succeed; companies must develop an organization that is built on enduring relationships with the workforce and customers.I think McGregor was right about how companies can succeed. Because, in an organization, the key players are the staff first, followed by managers. Floor staff, are the one that communicate with customers, sell stock, the operation team will make sure there is enough stock or if there is any that needs to be ordered in. Management steps in when orders are late, they will call the distribution company to enquire. But in many cases the operation team will know what to do, how to order and when to order.
McGregor and many other forefathers stress the important of social relations within an organization, understanding workers as human beings with social and emotional needs. When working for Boots the Chemist, there was a hotline that you could call and have confidential conversation with a consular. Boots was a great place to work if you were a single parent, and needed stability for the next 2-5 years. It valued their staff and personal problems. This is probably why; many staff in the flagship store I worked had an average of 3 years. Boots showed support all round for the staff, many company do not. Thus, Boots adopted Theory Y, where staff learnt to accept and seek responsibility. Staff exercised self-direction and control towards achieving objectives they are committed to, and people will view work as fun, rather than must do obstacle.
When I also worked for Argos, I must say it was the worst experience ever, but, maybe it was difficult time, or even maybe it was because coming from a Theory Y atmosphere and moving to a Theory X. Argos is a repetitive work place, with less interaction with customers. Because, when anyone goes to Argos they know what they want, product knowledge isn't that much of a demand. As the catalogs have all the description for you. Within an Argos shop floor, there are four departments, jewelry, tills, collection point, and returns. Staffs dislike their own department, and their surrounding. Thus, no one goes the extra mile; they prefer to be directed to achieve objectives not because they are unsure, more because they dislike work.
Theory X and Theory Y was developed by Douglas McGregor which are suppose to show two intense examples in ways mangers can relate to employees. McGregor's work was based on ‘Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs'. He also suggested that management could use either set of needs to motivate employees, and that better results can obtain by using both theories. During my research, I have come to realize both theories can work depending on the country the level of formality or informality and the power distance. Whether its high power distance; this is where the boss makes all the decision and staff or members comply with it. Lower power distance is the opposite, where employees do not recognize a power hierarchy. But will accept orders only when they feel threaten, or think the orders are suitable for the current activity.
Theory X is suppose to be the traditional on how management views its staff, that employees need to be bossed and pushed around to accomplished a task. According to McGregor, most management tends to apply Theory X and managers tend to adopt a more authoritarian style. Which I think this is common in developing world rather than developed world. A lot of formality will take effect here; considerable importance to tradition, social rules and especially rank. X theory managers are not easy to work with, usually unpleasant, poor listener, does not thank or praise their staff, arrogant with a short temper.
In comparison, Theory Y also known as participative management style,
Management in this section view employees in a brighter shade, where they are ready to accept responsibility, committed to the organization goals and are creative at work with a high potential. In simple form, managers here have more faith in their employers, thus gives the employees a chance to be who somebody. As theory Y manager try to remove any barriers.
Managers in Theory Y would have performance appraisal or management which is put into an action plan for the year. Managers will have a systematic planning and monitoring of their performance. Performance management involves different types of performance such as; planning, reviewing, developing and critical dimension. There are many types of dimension; common are time, focus, input/output and quality.
I think in theory Y people a ready for change but not theory X; this takes us back to change management. When we analyse the two theories, all I see is negative and positive people which can be changed. Bad and good managers or more like managers in high and low context culture. People are the organization; people are the ones who bring in the net at the end of the financial year.
"Commitment to objectives is a function of the rewards associated with their achievement."
For business implications; participation management is needed. Managers need to involve employees in decision making, not that its only fair, but its only realistic that the employees that are hired to be on a shop floor tend to know major changes that can make a happy working environment, thus staff will be more motivated to hit their targets including performance appraisals.
Decentralization and delegation -If organizations decentralize control and reduce the number of levels of management; managers will have more subordinates and consequently will be forced to delegate some responsibility and decision making to employees. Thus, an organization will have team leaders, which can solve petty problems and make decision that does not necessary need management.
McGregor mentioned that both theories can be put in to action and work. I am assuming he means only the United States or where he was based when doing his research. I find it hard to understand how it can work in the UK I have already given an example of Argos where managers practice the X theory. No staff is authorized to do anything without the manager's consent.
Theory X can be put in practice in the United States, definitely, four years living there, I think many staff need the push and are not bothered, more of an attitude problem and lack of ambition due to many American especially minority such as Afro-American, Latino and Mexican blaming the system, as they believe the system owes them. This is due to slavery and colonization.
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