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Human Relations Theories to Encourage Employees in the Workplace

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: Management
Wordcount: 3309 words Published: 27th Oct 2021

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To what extent should managers make use of the ideas of the human relations theorists to encourage employees in the workplace?

The development in the human relations theory of management happened in the early 1920s during the industrial revolution (Gail L., 2019). At that time, the enterprise regarded productivity as its major concern (Gail L., 2019). The human relations management theories believed that organizations should treat the workers as human beings rather than simply machines (Ismail, 2016, p.6). Gail L. (2019) states that workers are more likely to have motivations to improve their productivity and try to achieve personal and company goals since they will notice that their missions are meaningful, which will lead to high-quality work if they obtain special cares and are encouraged to participate. There are various theories of management that are proposed by a number of management theorists.

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This essay will look at how managers take advantage of these human relations theories in the workplace and encourage their employees through making use of the work of theorists, for example, Elton Mayo and Rensis Likert. What's more, there are also more scientific theorists such as Frederick Winslow Taylor who suggest that it is much more effective to harness a more strict and systematic approach as a business model.

Elton Mayo, an American sociologist, is the founder of the human relations theory. He is well-known for his pioneering research conducted with his collaborators, a Harvard colleague (Fritz Roethlisberger) and one of the company's researchers (William Dickson), in Western Electric's Hawthorne plant in Chicago by the Harvard Business School from 1924 to 1933 (Kwok, 2014, p.34).

The emphasis of this study was on the worker rather than the work. The Hawthorne studies were part of the consolidation of managerial strategy incorporating the socio-psychological aspects of human behavior in organizations (Courses.lumenlearning.com, 2019). According to Rose (2005, p.44), the studies originally looked into whether workers worked more productively under certain physical conditions, such as improved illumination. The experiments were carried out over a few years and conducted in three separate stages which were known as the illumination tests, the relay-assembly tests and the bank-wiring tests (Referenceforbusiness.com, 2019). Mayo and Roethlisberger were surprised at the unanticipated results. They concluded that employees responded more strongly to social factors, such as the people on their teams who worked with them and how interested managers were in their work than the factors the researchers surveyed, such as lighting, duration of works and working hours (Kwok, 2014, p.34).

In other words, social relations at work are as significant as financial motivations and excellent working environments. There are also some other conclusions drawn from the Hawthorne research based on the study of Cole, G. and Kelly, P. (2015, pp.48-49). For instance, managers ought to regard individual employees as members of a group rather than isolated people. Unofficial or informal groups at work can exert a strong impact on the behaviour of workers. Besides, if staff are to cooperate with the official organisations rather than work against it, it is necessary for supervisors and administrators to be apprehensive of these social needs and pander to them.

Many organisations in the real-life managing environment have already initiated these principles of the human relations theory to improve the relationship with the employees. The managers were expected to take on a new role and to exploit 'new concepts of authority, motivation, and leadership' (Sharma, 2019). The advantage of theory suggested by Elton Mayo would be an increase in freedom to the whole employees and a great level of communication and teamwork, which is beneficial for all people (LARGE SEO TOOLS, 2019).

According to the case study provided by The Times 100 (Motivational theory in practice at Tesco, 2019, p.107), Tesco operates the Mayo theory throughout the company. An extremely significant element in motivating employees is communication which can be done through the Internet, newsletters and more official structure such as appraisals (Motivational theory in practice at Tesco, 2019, p.107). Additionally, Tesco also provides many training and development opportunities as a way of promoting motivations of workers (Motivational theory in practice at Tesco, 2019, p.107). At Tesco, strategic career planning is offered to help employees 'achieve the extraordinary' (Motivational theory in practice at Tesco, 2019, p.107).

In 2009, Tesco nominated 3,000 managers and also an annual career discussion with every worker (Motivational theory in practice at Tesco, 2019, p.107). The company also pays attention to the whole person development and has carried out the 360-degree feedback system which can let staff recognize their behaviour, strengths, and weaknesses valued by others in the workplace (Motivational theory in practice at Tesco, 2019, p.107).

Moreover, the managers of Tesco can provide meaningful feedback through this program to employees so that there are opportunities for sustaining personal development (Motivational theory in practice at Tesco, 2019, p.107).

On the other hand, it is undeniable that most people are facing the disadvantage of the Elton Mayo theory. It can increase the responsibilities of employees, which is the fundamental contributor to pressure (LARGE SEO TOOLS, 2019). It is not always effective to cope with human behaviour the way the theory suggests due to the fact that the nature of human beings is complicated (Essays, Research Papers and Articles on Business Management, 2019). Human nature is unpredictable and it is not led by the same motivational forces (Essays, Research Papers and Articles on Business Management, 2019).

Furthermore, 'group decision-making may not always be better than individual decision-making' and 'human relations approach may not always be better than technical aspects of work' (Essays, Research Papers and Articles on Business Management, 2019). In addition, some people criticised that the Hawthorne studies were lack of scientific analysis and research and believed that the researchers had certain anticipative nations and orientations (Sharma, 2019). As a result, it is too grudging for the Elton mayo theory to offer universalisation (Sharma, 2019).

Rensis Likert, another contributor to the notion of motivation, has come up with a new dimension to organisational development theory (Cole, G. and Kelly, P., 2015, p.53, Dininni, 2011). Likert and his collaborators exploited the Likert Management System at the University of Michigan, USA in 1961 (Cole, G. and Kelly, P., 2015, p.53). Furthermore, Likert developed four management styles that are variable according to the mangers and the whole organisational situation (Janse, 2019), especially concentrate on decision-making and the extent to which people are involved in the decision (Changingminds.org, 2019). They are defined as Exploitativeauthoritative (System 1), Benevolent-authoritative (System 2), Consultative (System 3) and Participative-group (System 4) (Hershey, P., Blanchard, Johnson, 2008, cited in Fisk, Levine and Taylor, 2012, p.3).

According to Kwok's work (2014, p.36), these four management styles are regarded as the optimum approach where leadership is by superiors who completely trust in their subordinates, where incentive is by financial incentives on the basis of the goals that have been set in participation, 'where personnel at all levels feel real responsibility for the organisational goals', where there are more communication and a considerable amount of collaborative work.

Likert has done the description of the nature of these four management systems via a profile of organizational characteristics (Juneja, 2019). In this profile, the four management systems have been compared with one another according to certain organizational variables including leadership processes, motivational forces, communication process, interaction-influence process, decision-making process, goalsetting or ordering and control processes (Juneja, 2019). Based on this profile, Likert surveyed staff from different organisations and management positions, including departments and employees (Juneja, 2019). His research concluded that the departments or units in System 1 and 2 were less productive, whereas those in Systems 3 and 4 were much more productive (Juneja, 2019).

Fisk, Levine and Taylor (2012, pp.7-8) state that System 4 (Participative-group) which Likert considered the most effective system, will result in a long-range improvement in performance and high productivity. Employees and managers can both have a sense of teamwork and achievement when they achieve their objectives. Because of the help of the profile developed by Likert, it is possible for the qualification of results of all the researches into group dynamics (Janse, 2019).

Meanwhile, such theory also enhances the measuring "soft" skills in the areas of management, such as trust and communication (Dininni, 2011). However, this theory is criticised for being based more on theory than empirical practice (Health Knowledge, 2019). As a result, many practising managers do not choose to use this theory.

In contrast to these human relations theories, there are also much more strict and systematic organisational methods that do not value the human needs of workers. Frederick Winslow Taylor developed the theory of scientific management with the aim of 'increasing productivity and reducing labor cost' (Chand, 2017, cited in Tirintetaake, 2017). According to Taylor, "scientific management means knowing exactly what you want men to do and then see in that they do it in the best and cheapest way''. There are several characteristics of scientific management which are systematic, abandoning traditional management, demanding strict compliance with regulations and boosting the productivity of employees (Tirintetaake, 2017). A systematic approach can be regarded as the approach of the division of labour.

In other words, employees are not allowed to train themselves. By contrast, managers select, train and allocate them to specific tasks and teach them how to perform well in order to achieve their maximum efficiency (Expert Program Management, 2019). Abandoning traditional management means that there is an advancement of science for each element of a man's work, which replaces the old rule-of-thumb work method (Kwok, 2014, p.32). In addition, demanding strict compliance with regulations implies that employees are seen as robotic machines (Businessay.net, 2017, cited in Tirintetaake, 2017) and were requested to adhere to the regulations and process laid down by their employer.

In today's modern world, we can find that the application of scientific management theory appears in different types of industry because of its positive attributes. First and foremost, scientific management makes the management mode more systematic and enables the employer to produce more products with the lowest cost of production through increased outputs and finally obtain higher profits (Talathi, 2019).

Moreover, workers are paid based on their outputs with the method of piece-rate pay follow (Expert Program Management, 2019). Therefore, they have more motivation to achieve their highest productivity so that they can get more wages.

Additionally, Taylor introduced 'Time and Motion Study' to increase contribution to organisational goals, which reach its optimum utilisation of resources (Money Matters | All Management Articles, 2019). Nowadays, many managers still apply this theory, which is evident in McDonald's, who uses one normalised product procedure such as making a burger (UKEssays.com, 2018). Consumers in Dubai or India are guaranteed their order within 60 seconds, which can only have come from the application of Taylor's 'Time and Motion Study' (UKEssays.com, 2018). Taylorism is widely applied to production processes. "A manager at the automobile factory jointly operated by the General Motors Corporation and the Toyota Motor Corporation in Fremont, California, pinned its recent success squarely on "the intelligent interpretation and application of Taylor's time-and-motion studies." " (Kanigel, 1997, p.18, quoted in Cram.com, 2008).

Although scientific management theory brings about significant contributions, there are still criticisms against the theory on the following aspects. This theory concentrate on a specific way of performing the job for companies and the employers gain command of the employers, which makes work monotonous since employees who are treated as robots have to follow the pre-defined lines of work (Abahe.uk, 2019). As a result, this will probably result in the destruction of the individual's initiative and creativity (Reddy, 2019). Some managers do not apply Taylorism to their organisations workforce. For example, staff who worked at Google are allowed to work freely at desired times and the working environment is customized by them (UKEssays.com, 2018).

In conclusion, the successfulness of a company lies on the methods of managing employees. There are three theories are mentioned in this paper, Elton Mayo's theory, Likert management system, and scientific management theory. Elton Mayo's theory and Likert management system, which belong to human relations theory, promote the idea that employees are human and they should be treated as human beings, and also they promote working as a group. On the contrary, scientific management theory promotes employees to work individually, where they are required to do a specific role. Both of these two types of management theories play a significant role in accomplishing the objectives of organisations. These principles are applied today depending on the products and structure of an organisation because the ideas will not be suitable for every organisations and there is not just one best approach.

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