Description of McGregor’s Theory X and Y
This theory derives from McGregor’s belief that the way that managers perform their jobs comes from their own predispositions about humans and their attitudes towards work, he proposed 2 theories, Theory X and Theory Y, which form opposing views on types of management, (Mullins, 2010).
First of all McGregor put forward Theory X, which can be described as a “carrot and stick” approach (Mullins, 2010:458), whereby rewards and punishments are used in order to motivate employees and encourage their performance. Furthermore, Mullins, (2010) suggests that the reasoning behind a manager using this approach is that they believe humans to have a natural dislike of work, have very little motivation and ambition, are unable to make decisions independently and using initiative. In relation to Maslow’s theory, employees following this theory only have basic needs, and seek jobs that fulfil physiological and security needs, i.e. just having a secure job, which enables them to earn a living. Therefore, they need to be controlled and directed in every way possible, as they are less likely to want to go out of their way to perform well, they are only working to be able to earn a salary, not because they particularly enjoy the job. Theory X type management would likely occur in situations where there are few opportunities for the employee to move upward (Mullins, 2010).
The second of McGregor’s theories is Theory Y, whereby managers believe that individual employees should be involved in organisational goals and decisions, (Mullins, 2010). This approach is based on the assumptions that people enjoy work as it comes naturally to them, they will be able to take responsibility for their actions and make their own decisions, with limited direction from management, these ensure that their creativity is able to be displayed, (Mullins, 2010). For employees following the Theory Y approach, they would be motivated by the higher levels of Maslow’s Hierarchy suggests Mullins (2010). Due to their ambition and ability to take control, they would be motivated by opportunities to further their careers.
These opposing forms of management approach have been found to have direct implications on the communication styles of managers. Russ (2013), describes how due to the more controlling nature of Theory X managers, top-down communication is employed, which is where communication is one way, from management to employees. On the other hand, Theory Y managers are more likely to use participatory communication, where discussions are held between managers and employees in order to make the best decision.
Finally, it has been argued by authors such as Warner Burke (2011), that instead of either showing solely Theory X or Theory Y traits, elements of both reside within managers.
Theory X and Y in the Workplace
As a sales assistant in a high street clothing retailer, I found that the management seemed to follow the Theory X approach. Firstly, day-to-day, the managers would have to set explicit tasks