Thursday, September 3, 2009

Are you an Theory X or Theory Y manager?

Have you heard of Douglas McGregor's two theories on motivation of humans?

In the 1960s McGregor proposed two competing theories on motivation and management of people.

Theory X was based in the assumption that employees don't like work, don't want to be at work, would goof off if they could, and must be coerced to higher performance.

Theory Y was based in the assumption that employees do like their work, are intrinsically motivated, can be creative, seek responsibility, and exercise self-direction and self-control.

McGregor was basing his two theories on Maslow's hierarchy of needs (lower order to higher order needs: physiological, safety, social, esteem, self-actualization). With the assumption that Theory X was concerned with the lower order needs (physiological & safety) while Theory Y was concerned with the higher order needs (esteem & self-actualization). McGregor didn't believe there was a continuous continuum. That perhaps motivation was bi-modal.

Which leads into Frederick Herzberg's Two-Factor Theory. Basicly the higher order needs lead to motivators, where as the absences of lower order needs lead to dissatisfction - which is not a single continuum, but rather a dual continuum (see graphic).

By the way, you have McGregor to thank for the term "human resource".

So which are you? Does it depend on the situation? Would you want a Theory X or Y ship captain when you hit an ice-berg?

Some interesting links on Motivation.
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