Douglas McGregor Theory X and Theory Y: Principles of Management

The current world is full of stereotypes per to which supervision type could be called the most efficient for a firm. In addition to personal preferences, it is also necessary to take into account objective reality. The latter consists in the fact that laborers need to reach certain outcomes, so the methods of achievement may vary depending on the staff’s skills and other factors. To be a good leader you have to apply various theories of management, using as much as possible a whole arsenal of means of motivation and order.

What is Theory X?

According to it, people are by nature quite lazy and avoid work at every opportunity. Naturally, supervision perceives similar attitudes negatively, focusing on the development and implementation of integrated control systems. Methods of influence also include threats, fines, and layoffs. In such a company, a hierarchical ladder is clearly observed, where orders are descended from the top down.

This perception is typical because a lot of rulers assume that laborers are worried only by cash payments, not by the firm’s image as a whole. At the same time, the blame for production failure, as a rule, falls on the workers, even if the cause lies in something else. However, individuals do not particularly want to be responsible for the consequences of their own activities. The mentioned theory is good at an industrial scale, where discipline and high speed are valued.

This doctrine leads to a directive leadership theory. A lot of businessmen are guided by the principle “do as I said”, believing that they are more competent than others. Command type provides for absolute control over the subordinates. Aggressively imposing own decisions, a boss destroys everything new.

Such an approach also adversely affects an incentive system. For most professionals, money is not the only excitant element; no less essential is satisfaction or pride in well-done work. Directive type infringes upon the indicated feelings. It justifies itself during crisis situations or in the event of huge risks. But in stable conditions, it is far inefficient.

In general, the above concept focuses on negative character traits. Human is represented by a selfish person who is unable to adapt to the environment. He or she is not interested in the work, perceiving it as a heavy burden. McGregor was convinced that only rigidity can be achieved by obedience. Thus, the key points of this theory are:

  • Accurate adherence to the hierarchy
  • Authoritarian, sometimes the dictatorial style of administration
  • A system of threats and rewards
  • The belief in the prevalence of negative features in the human character
  • An absence of initiative and responsibility of subordinates for their actions

What is Theory Y?

The indicated statement states that wage-earners have ambitions, self-control and are ready to work at full capacity. The authorities portray personnel as the best in their business. If coworkers are given some freedom, they will demonstrate creativity by offering an original idea or innovation.

The managers’ function consists in helping the collaborators to open own potential. This is possible only with a positive attitude towards duties and emotional maturity. Generally, a similar theory is more suitable for start-ups or companies whose activities are related to critical thinking. These include technology, science, journalism, etc.

Integration serves as the dominant principle of the concept. People could achieve the desired aims, concentrating their efforts on the organization’s interests. They will get the most out of their work thanks to a sense of gratification and appreciation from a team. Theory Y asserts that control and punishment are not the only ways to stimulate staff. Employees only need to focus on goals and connect them with their aspirations. Thus, the indicated hypothesis says:

  • Laborers disclose intellectual and physical abilities in the workflow
  • Personnel are characterized by self-control and a high level of motivation
  • The impartial attitude of directors ensures the loyalty of the staff
  • Delegation of authority
  • Encouraging independent thinking

Implications of Theory X and Theory Y

In fact, the above concepts can be viewed as the embodiment of opposing points of view of the next outstanding philosophers T. Hobbes and J. Locke. The first one believed that a person is cunning and hateful, while the second researcher saw only positive features in him/her. Concerning two different theories, we deal with the pessimist and optimist worldview, believing in the priority of physiological or social needs, respectively.

On the basis of positive theory Y, there is a democratic sort of regulation that encourages the expression of one's own opinions. In such companies are not forced to work. It acts through beliefs. The header gives collaborators an opportunity to develop, openly discussing various projects. It is significant not to forget about intangible resources can rally the team.

In the current world, the theory X increasingly loses its popularity. Based on punitive methods, they completely deny the humanity and social orientation of business. Unlike it, Y theory treats the coworker not just as a cog in a single machine, but as an integral part of progress. Therefore, it is so essential to bring intentions and feelings of the staff into a positive upsurge in order to maximize the return.

Thus, McGregor’s theory X and Y are directly related to Maslow's pyramid, which viewed human motivation as the main engine of evolution in the workplace. If the first concept represents a force method of solution, the second one tries to create harmonious ties between leaders and collaborators through respect and encouragement. Faith in the faithfulness of the theory X often drives its supporters into a vicious circle of their own right. But the choice of management kind is still yours.