Theory X and Theory Y

“Theory X” and “Theory Y” styles of  management popularized by Douglas McGregor.

Theory X, which was the method used up to 40 years ago, assumed that employees have to be pushed into performance.  Management   did   the thinking and the employees did the work. Control was important as well as compliance with rules and orders.

Theory Y is based on the principle that people have a basic need for satisfaction. What the manager has to do is provide the opportunity and support. People will take responsibility and develop their own drive to contribute and improve themselves if management will give them a chance. As a result, they will occasionally say, “we” instead of always saying “they” when referring to their organization.  People are more highly motivated if they have an opportunity to contribute and participate instead of just being told what to do.

The lessons to be learned from these well known theories are:

  • Be sure the maintenance or basic needs are in place before you try to motivate someone.
  • Don’t  be  a  Theory  X  manager; manage  by  leading,  encouraging  and supporting.
  • Show interest in your people and they will produce a lot more.