A theory Y worker is self-driven. Image credit bloomberg.com

A theory Y worker is self-driven. Image credit bloomberg.com

ZIMSEC O Level Business Studies Notes: McGregor’s Theory of X and Y

  • According to McGregor managers have two distinct general assumptions  about their employees
  • Each assumption comes with its own sets of assumptions about how workers can be motivated
  • The management style adopted by the managed is influenced by their underlying beliefs about workers in general
  • The two assumptions are known as:
  • Theory X and
  • Theory Y
  • Theory X managers work under the assumption that workers:
    • Dislike work and working
    • They will avoid work wherever possible
    • Avoid responsibility and need to be directed
    • Have to be controlled, forced and threatened in order for them to work and do what is required of them
    • Need to be supervised at every step, with controls put in place
    • Need to be enticed to produce results otherwise
    • they have no ambition or incentive to work
    • They choose security above everything else
  • In order to motivate workers Theory X managers:
    • Takes a carrot and stick approach to motivating workers
    • Introduce performance related pay
    • Introduce a lot of controls
    • There is an emphasis on supervisory roles within the organisation
    • Typically involves an autocratic leadership style
  • Meanwhile Theory Y managers work under the assumption that:
    • Workers like work which they find as natural as play and rest
    • People will be self-directed to meet their objectives
    • Workers actively seek responsibility
    • Are motivated to achieve their life goals
  • Under this theory employees can be motivated by:
    • Giving workers more responsibility via promotions
    • Making work more interesting through job enrichment
    • Creating a work environment where creativity is encouraged
    • Management By Objectives and
    • Allowing workers to participate in decision making
  • It is important to note that under this theory the manager’s assumptions about workers tend to be self-fulfilling prophecies

NB There are no Theory X or Theory Y workers, there are Theory X and Theory Y managers

To access more topics go to the O Level Business Notes page.

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