The response of people to adapting environments


Most of us get up in the morning, go to school or work and behave in ways that are predictably our own. We respond to our environment and the people in it with little thought as to why we work hard, enjoy certain classes, or find some recreational activities so much fun. Yet all these behaviors are motivated by something. But what is motivation? Motivation is having a drive to accomplish certain goals; however this requires energy and passion to work towards those goals. But not everyone shares the same passion toward motivation, as persons may have positive or negative motivation. This question of motivation has been studied by management theorists and social psychologists for decades, in attempts to identify successful approaches to management. Abraham Maslow and Douglas McGregor are two of the best know contributors to human resources perspective of motivation. Both men theories are similar, Abraham Maslow is well known for his famous 'Maslow's hierarchy of needs theory.' While Douglas McGregor is known for the x and y factors; 'Theory-X and Theory-Y.' for this essay I will describe both men theories then compare them.

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According to Daft (2006),"Abraham Maslow (1908-1970), a practicing psychologist, observed that his patients' problems usually stemmed from an inability to satisfy their needs. Thus, he generalized his work and suggested a hierarchy of needs. Maslow also stated that "humans are motivated to satisfy multiple needs that are grouped in five levels." (p. 53). These needs exist in a hierarchical order that place physiological needs at the starting point and progressed to safety, belongingness, esteem, and finally self-actualization needs." (p. 53).

The first need on Maslow's hierarchy is physiological needs. "These are the most basic human physical needs, including food, water, and oxygen. In organizational setting, these are reflected in the needs for adequate heat, air and base salary to ensure survival." (Daft 2006, p. 699). Next are the "security needs for a secure physical and emotional environment. Examples include the desire for housing and clothing and need to be free from worry about money and job security. These needs can be satisfied in the workplace by job continuity (no layoffs), a grievance system (to protect against arbitrary supervisory actions), and an adequate insurance and retirement benefits package (for security against illness and for the provision of income in later life)." (Griffin 2002, p. 490). The third need is belongingness, these needs relate to social processes and so on. They include the need for love and affection and the need to be accepted by one's peers. These needs are satisfied for most people by family and community relationships outside work and friendships on the job. A manager can help satisfy these needs by allowing social interaction and by making employees feel like part of a team or work group.

The fourth need is esteem needs, it comprises of two different sets of needs: the need for a positive self-image and self-respect. "Within organizations, esteem needs reflect a motivation for recognition, an increase in responsibility, high status, and credit for contributions to the organization." (Daft 2006, p. 699) These are known as extrinsic and intrinsic rewards. The final need is at the top of the hierarchy these are self-actualization needs. These needs involve realizing one's potential for continued growth and individual development." (Griffin 2002, p. 491). "The self-actualization needs are perhaps the most difficult for a manager to address, but they can be met by providing people with opportunities to grow, be creative, and acquire training for challenging assignments and advancement." (Daft 2006, p. 699)

According to Maslow's theory, low- order needs take priority they must be satisfied before higher-order needs are activated. The needs are satisfied in sequence; Physiological needs come before safety needs, safety needs before social needs. A person desiring physical safety will devote his or efforts to securing a safer environment and will not be concerned with esteem needs or self-actualization needs. Once a need is satisfied, it declines in importance and the next higher need is activated. (Daft 2006, p. 699).

Likewise, "Douglas McGregor (1906-1964) had become frustrated with early simplistic human relations notions while president of Antioch College in Ohio. He challenged both classical perspective and the early human relations assumptions about human behavior. Based on his experiences as a manager and consultant, his training as a psychologist, and the work of Maslow, McGregor formulated his Theory X and Theory Y." (Daft 2006, p. 53, 54). McGregor implies that "Theory X is a relatively negative view of workers consistent with the view of scientific management, while Theory Y is more positive and represents the assumptions that human relations advocates make." (Griffin 2002, p. 46).

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According to Daft (2006) the assumptions of Theory X are that: "One, the average human being has an inherent dislike of work and will avoid it if possible. Next, because of human characteristic of dislike for work, most people must be coerced, controlled, directed, or threatened with punishment to get them to put fourth adequate effort toward the achievement or organizational objectives. Finally, the average human begin prefers to be directed, wishes to avoid responsibility, has relatively little ambition and wants security above all." (Daft 2006, p. 55).

In contrast, the assumptions of Theory Y are that: "one, the expenditure of physical and mental effort in work is as natural as play or rest. The average human being does not inherently dislike work. Secondly, external control and the threat of punishment are not only means for bringing about effort toward organizational objectives. A person will exercise self-direction and self-control in the service of objectives to which he or she is committed. Thirdly, the average human being learns, under proper conditions not only to accept but to seek responsibility next, the capacity to exercise a relatively high degree of imagination, ingenuity, and creativity in solution of organizational problems is widely, not narrowly, distributed in population. The final assumption was, under the conditions of modern industrial life, the intellectual potentialities of the average human being are only partially utilized." (Daft 2006, p. 55).

Hence, base on both men bibliography, we can see some similarities coming forth, as both men had some practicing or training as psychologist, this field study why people behave, think, and feel the way they do. Also, McGregor build his theories based on Maslow's hierarchy of needs. Further observation showed, based on the descriptions of each categories of both Maslow's and McGregor theory it is safe to say that McGregor Theory X is similar to that of the lower needs of Maslow's hierarchy, and his Theory Y is similar to that of the higher needs in Maslow's hierarchy. The lower need would be the first three on the hierarchy: physiological needs, safety, needs and belongingness needs. While esteem and self-actualization needs would be the higher needs. Another observation was that Maslow looked at the needs of human being from two perspectives, these where human beings personal needs and the workplace needs. While McGregor's theory was more base more on the leadership of managers.

As stated earlier, McGregor built his theories based on Maslow's hierarchy of needs. This means, Theory X was developed from Maslow's lower needs on the hierarchy. Once again these lower needs are the first three needs on the hierarchy, starting with the physiological needs (heat, air and base salary), next, safety needs (safe work, fringe benefits, job security) and finally belongingness needs (work groups, positive rapport with co-workers and supervisors). In compassion, McGregor stated that Theory X involves negative assumptions about people and he believes managers often use this theory when dealing with their subordinates, as they assume the average human being has an inherent (permanent) dislike of work and will avoid it if all possible. Because of this, managers feel it is best to use authoritarian leadership style to deal with their workers, this involves controlling, directing and threats as acts of punishment to get workers to work towards achieving the objects of the organization, base on these views managers made another assumptions that the average human being prefers to be directed, dislike responsibility, has little ambition and wants security above all.

Now looking on these assumptions of Theory X, we can draw for the list of Maslow's lower needs on the hierarchy as those needs depicts what Theory-X is all about. Looking at the physiological needs which are the basic needs of survival, this could be what managers referred to when they say the workers has little ambition as they seek to satisfy those needs first and get complacent so they do not seek to elevate themselves further, also the safety needs would made reference to, "security above all". Well its human nature, no one wants to lose their jobs and once you are working its natural to think about your benefits. I went on my internship few months ago before I started working we had an orientation process, there was also another gentleman being hired for a management position, when we were asked if we had any questions, his first questions was "what are the benefits ?" Base on this observation, this could be the reasons why managers feel persons dislike work and will avoid it if they will not be rewarded. Hence this shows that managers lack confidences in their workers as they feel workers are not capable of completing a task without being constantly watch or instructed as at what is to be done, but the "carrot and stick" leaderships style can have negative impacts, as it can lead to mistrust, resentment and generates a low productivity.

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It was also stated that Theory Y was drawn up from the higher needs on Maslow's hierarchy, with the higher needs being esteem and self-actualization. As stated earlier esteem is comprises of two different sets of needs: a positive self-image and self-respect, self-image is how one sees his or her self, it is a feeling of competence and independence. As for respect it can be defined as consideration for self and of others. As a young adult growing up I was thought "respect is earned, not given." In order to earn the respect of others, one must first have respect for themselves. When one acquired self-respect you are less prone to have regrets, get blame, and bear guilt, shame, and secretive behavior. Self-respect is the cornerstone on which many other attributes are built such as honesty, confidence, and integrity, both managers and workers should display respect for each other.

As it relates to the work place motivation for self-image comes with extrinsic symbolic accomplishment such as job title, comfortable offices pay increase and other reward. Looking at this illustration Roy Green, who hates his sales job, nevertheless is motivated by extrinsic rewards of high pay. At a more intrinsic level these are rewards of satisfactions a person receives in the process of performing a particular action. For example, Betty Frances sells educational material for the intrinsic reward of helping children read well. Managers may also provide challenging job assignments and opportunities for employee to feel a sense of accomplishment. Therefore keeping your self esteem at a high level will allow you to best deal with bosses, clients, and coworkers in various environments while maintaining a cool, professional processing such quality can separate you from the rest of the pack, propelling you to the front for promotions, special projects, and receiving. The final higher need was self-actualization, which Maslow belief was the most difficult need for manager to fulfill. Self-actualization has been defined developing one's full potential, increasing one's competence, and becoming a better person. As it relates to the organization these needs can be met if by providing people with opportunities to grow, be creative and acquire training for challenging assignments. If workers are given these opportunities, the organization would have continues growth, a lot of hidden talents, lies within organization because of the lack of communication, fear or the leadership style persons may shy away and not be motivated to display their gifts. Similarly, McGregor consider Theory Y assumptions to be "good" and all managers should use this judgment as leaders instead of that of Theory X. Theory Y managers sees workers viewing work as natural, they don't dislike work, they are self-motivated and ambitious they need no direction, they accept challenges and seek responsibilities. They are capable of making good decisions and suggestions for future development of the organization, but as stated earlier their talents are underused in most organizations. McGregor believes that using Theory Y management; most people will want to do well at work, because they are motivated to do a good job that brings satisfactory rewards in the end.

In closing according to Daft (2006), "the study of motivation help managers understand what prompts people initiate action, what influences their choices of action and why they persist in that action over time." (p. 696), which was what Maslow and McGregor did in their practices and training as psychologist. From observation both theories had reinforced the other. With that in mind in order for an organization to grow productively and healthy, manages should communicate openly with subordinates, understand their culture, built a good relationship with their team create a comfortable environment wherein works can develop and use their abilities, at this stage subordinates would be involved in decision making that could benefit the organization. Most of all managers should respect their team as they are a unit working towards a common goal. Likewise the workers will do the same for you. This is a positive view to help motivate employees.