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In the organizations, the management teams have to realize that the workforce is diverse; not only because of people belonging to various cultures but also to varying generations, the workforce comprises of people belonging to different generations such as Baby Boomers, Veterans, Generation X and Generation Y. In order to create a competitive and satisfactory workforce, it has become mandatory for the organizations to develop a work environment that is favorable, motivational and satisfactory for every employee (McLean, 2009).
Since the Baby Boomers had delayed retirements and young people entered the professional field at an early stage as middle managers and assistant mangers, the management team has to ensure that it can deal properly with all generations' employees. As all of these generations have certain set of preferences, it is vital for the management team to recognize these differences, avoid any kind of generalization, manage such a diverse workforce and satisfy them at an exceptionally high level so that they are productive and they can be retained for long period (Feinberg, 2005).
Since there are various theories of motivation, the Human Resource (HR) manager can make effective use of them to enhance the motivation level of its entire workforce. As employees are valuable assets of an organization, it will be worthwhile to understand different types of management styles or behaviors of each employee at workplace so that they are given the best opportunities for getting engaged in productive tasks (Bobic & Davis, 2003).
Douglas McGregor developed Theory X and Theory Y to explain the behaviors of individuals during their work which allows the managers to provide a work environment that is compatible with the needs of their subordinates. This theory has helped the management team in identifying the work perception held by employees of each generation and then providing them the working environment that is compatible with their requirements (Guest, 2011).
McGregor Theory X and Theory Y
Douglas McGregor developed and created Theory X and Theory Y as the theories of motivation that have been designed keeping in mind the different behaviors of employees demonstrated during their work. Both of these theories describe entirely different perceptions about human motivation (Cummings & Worley, 2007).
According to Theory X, managers believe that their employees are lazy and reluctant to work and they can be forced to complete their tasks only by compelling them using authoritative style of management. Other major assumptions of this theory as highlighted by London (2009) are that majority of the employees lack interest in work, have less desire for taking responsibility, unwilling to participate in organizational activities, have preference for getting direction and are self-centered; the only motivating factor for the employees is money and they are actively looking for incentive programs to enhance their motivational level; and they show strong resistance to any kind of change.
On the other hand, Theory Y is developed on the assumption that the workforce comprises of people who are self-motivated, ambitious, willing to participate in organization's key decision making processes, eager to accept responsibilities of much higher level, employ their self-direction and self-control elements; they can be motivated by various monetary and non-monetary rewards as they need appreciation for the contribution that they make in the company; and when employees are given freedom to work in the company, there are more chances that their productivity level increases and they can implement their creative ideas in the organization (Weingarten, 2009).
The comparison of Theory X and Y reveals contrasting views of managers following either of the theories as each one of them has been developed on different ideas (Bradford & Hester, 2011); the detailed description of conflicting viewpoints are described as follows:
Power and authority - Theory X mangers have the authority to make and implement decision and there is only one way of communication. Whereas, Theory Y managers take the suggestion from employees but they have the final authority to for implementing the final decision.
Leadership - Theory X managers have authoritative style, while, Theory Y managers have participative style of management.
Motivation Style - Employees are motivated by money in Theory X along with threat and disciplinary actions. On the other hand, Theory Y managers reward the employees for their valuable contribution in the organization.
Process of performance appraisal - In Theory X, performance appraisal is done to monitor the performance of employees. While, in Theory Y, performance appraisal is done on a regular basis to identify the training needs of the employees, set individual objectives with their consensus and promote them for their improved performance or help them in developing the skills so that they can be promoted in their career.
Viewpoint about conflicts - Conflicts are intolerant by Theory X managers. While, employees are asked to negotiate to present their viewpoints for resolving the conflict.
Hence, McGregor Theory X and Theory Y have two different aspects and only one theory or management style can be followed in a company. The best way to motivate employees is to keep a balance between the organizational goals and employee's needs (Cennamo & Gardener, 2008).
Brief Description of Generation X and Generation Y
Generation X comprises of the individuals born in between the period of 1965 and 1980, while, Generation Y encompasses people born in the years 1981-1995; Generation Y is also known as Millennials. The Generation X resulted from decline in the birth rates after baby boomers and are lower in number that the generations that are preceding and succeeding ones. The Generation X members are now in between 40 to 60 years and they are mostly employed as senior associates, junior partners or middle level managers (Denhardt, Denhardt, & Aristigueta, 2009).
On the other hand, Generation Y members are aged in between 30-50 years and are the youngest professionals entering the workforce. They hold positions of middle level and junior level management which depends on their qualifications and trainings. It is believed that Generation Y people are more ambitious, creative, technology savvy, hopeful and achievement-oriented (London, 2009).
For Generation X, family values are of utmost importance and they are willing to work hard in their workplaces. According to Cummings and Worley (2007), the distinguishing characteristics of Generation X are that they are flexible, value work/life balance, believe in being independent and self-sufficient, prefer to have autonomy and freedom in the workplace and dislike stringent working rules.
Generation Y professionals are different from Generation X people as they strive hard for challenges that are creative and foster their individual development so that they can have a successful career, seek guidance from experts to provide them help, excellent multi-tasking capability, prefer to have two-way communication so that they can ensure that they have the required skills and tools for performing the tasks, high level of commitment for ongoing learning and have high expectations from their bosses (Bradford & Hester, 2011).
Affect of Theory X and Theory Y on Modern Workforce
Since the modern workforce comprises of people belonging to different Generations, it has become important for every organization to provide a working environment to their workforce which will enhance their motivation level. A detailed analysis of current and modern workforce shows that theory Y is compatible with the requirements of the employees and managers can motivate them by providing them access to a diverse range of opportunities (McLean, 2009).
Generation X members can be motivated by providing them room for further growth which means that they should be provided ample opportunities for growth in their job, offering them the opportunities to make choices such as formulating new policies, accepting new challenges, sharing creative ideas and etc. and also mentoring them which implies that they should be given feedback and provided assistance so that they feel comfortable and willing to make extra efforts within their work environment (Cennamo & Gardner, 2008).
Likewise, Generation Y employees are motivated by giving them challenging tasks, providing feedback on continuous basis, making available all technological gadgets so that they can do multi-tasking efficiently, creating teams so that they can learn the art of leading a project, ensuring that they have complete understanding about the organization's structures, policies and regulations and developing relationships with them so that they can make wise decisions (Weingarten, 2009).
With the help of McGregor Theory X and Theory Y, the managers of an organization can ensure that they have a competent and productive workforce that is striving hard to help it in achieving its business objectives. In order to survive in such tough and dynamic business environment, it is vital for the companies to ensure that they have the best motivational mechanisms which are compatible with the requirements of their employees. When employees will be motivated to work hard for the organization, there will be positivity within the work environment; as a result, an organization will be able to make successive progression within its industry.