According to Wikipedia, Theory X and Theory Y are theories of human work motivation and management. They were created by Douglas McGregor while he was working at the MIT Sloan School of Management in the 1950s and developed further in the 1960s. McGregor’s work was rooted in motivation theory alongside the works of Abraham Maslow, who created the hierarchy of needs. The two theories proposed by McGregor describe contrasting models of workforce motivation applied by managers in human resource management, organizational behavior, organizational communication, and organizational development. Theory X explains the importance of heightened supervision, external rewards, and penalties, while Theory Y highlights the motivating role of job satisfaction and encourages workers to approach tasks without direct supervision. Management use of Theory X and Theory Y can affect employee motivation and productivity in different ways, and managers may choose to implement strategies from both theories into their practices.
Theory X is based on assumptions regarding the typical worker. This management style assumes that the typical worker has little ambition, avoids responsibility, and is individual-goal oriented. In general, Theory X style managers believe their employees are less intelligent, lazier, and work solely for a sustainable income. Management believes employees’ work is based on their own self-interest. Managers who believe employees operate in this manner are more likely to use rewards or punishments as motivation. Due to these assumptions, Theory X concludes the typical workforce operates more efficiently under a hands-on approach to management. Theory X managers believe all actions should be traceable to the individual responsible. This allows the individual to receive either a direct reward or a reprimand, depending on the outcome’s positive or negative nature. This managerial style is more effective when used in a workforce that is not essentially motivated to perform.
Theory Y managers assume employees are internally motivated, enjoy their job, and work to better themselves without a direct reward in return. These managers view their employees as one of the most valuable assets to the company, driving the internal workings of the corporation. Employees additionally tend to take full responsibility for their work and do not need close supervision to create a quality product. It is important to note, however, that before an employee carries out their task, they must first obtain the manager’s approval. This ensures work stays efficient, productive, and in-line with company standards. Theory Y managers gravitate towards relating to the worker on a more personal level, as opposed to a more conductive and teaching-based relationship. As a result, Theory Y followers may have a better relationship with their boss, creating a healthier atmosphere in the workplace. In comparison to Theory X, Theory Y incorporates a pseudo-democratic environment for the workforce. This allows the employee to design, construct, and publish their work in a timely manner in co-ordinance to their workload and projects.