By Chris Simmons
American psychologist Douglas McGregor detailed the X-Y theory in his 1960 book, “The Human Side of Enterprise.” While some recent studies question the inflexibility of his work, X-Y is still widely used in addressing organizational motivations and culture. McGregor suggests management styles are a simple choice between authoritarian or participatory approaches. Furthermore, Theory X (dictatorial) managers will generally experience poor results while their Theory Y (engaged) counterparts see better individual and organizational performance because of the opportunities to grow and develop.
Theory X Assumptions (Authoritarian Management)
- The average person inherently dislikes work and will avoid it if possible.
- Because most people dislike work, they must be coerced into striving towards an organizational goal.
- The average person avoids responsibility, has little or no ambition, desires security over all other things, and prefers to be task-directed.
Theory Y Assumptions (Participatory Management)
- Work is satisfying.
- Physical and mental exertion at work is as natural as play or rest.
- Coercion is not the only way to motivate people to work. When committed to a cause, people willingly use self-direction and self-control to achieve a goal.
- One’s commitment is tied to the value of the perceived reward for achievement.
- People seek and accept responsibility and will do the job based on their perception of the job’s priority.
- The ability to solve organizational problems using ingenuity, creativity, and imagination is widely – not narrowly – found among the general populace.
- The average person’s intellectual potential is only partially realized.
For all those currently suffering under a Theory X boss, read this offering from businessballs.com on surviving an authoritarian manager