A Comparison of Theory X and Theory Y in terms of Management Styles

You have just been promoted to supervisor of a large department in your company. The previous supervisor was terminated because of low morale and performance of his department. You had been attending night school to earn your bachelor’s degree in management and remember, from one of your courses, how important it is to listen to your employees. Before coming in and making wholesale changes, you have spent the first several weeks on the job meeting casually with each employee about his or her views on the company, the department, and his or her own work efforts. Although you receive a lot of varying feedback, one common thread of employee concern is the very autocratic approach that the former supervisor used when dealing with his employees. You know that this is sometimes referred to as a theory X approach, and you know that a more participative management approach is called theory Y. However, you have not taken the management course that covers these topics.

Read also McGregor’s Theory X and Theory Y

Using the library and Internet resources, you are to write a 500–750-word research paper that compares theory X to theory Y in terms of management styles. Specifically, you are to include the following requirements:

  • Explain each theory.
  • Create a chart that shows the pros and cons of each management style.
  • Is one particular style best in all situations? Why, or why not? Give an example.
  • Give your opinion on the difference between theory Y management and what might be considered to be democratic decision making.
  • Why would a manager’s understanding of these two theories be important to good leadership practices?

Rad also McGregor’s Theory X and Theory Y, Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs Theory and the Hawthorne Studies

Theory X vs. Theory Y Management Styles

In the management world, Theory X and Theory Y show the differences between two approaches to understanding and directing the actions of employees (Schermerhorn Jr, 2020). McGregor developed these theories in the 1960’s and they give us a glimpse into different attitudes towards employees and work from a management viewpoint.

Theory X

Theory X assumes that employees dislike work, are lazy, and will only work towards organizational objectives once they are coerced or controlled. With this style of managing, the superiors usually don’t leave their followers much room to work on their own and have to be closely watched and controlled by their leaders.

Theory X Pros

  • Demonstrates consistent structure and coherence.
  • Can prove helpful in emergency circumstances and when fast decision making has to be done.
  • Can be used for specific tasks that involve strict following along with guidelines.

Theory X Cons

  • Leading to low work morale and declining employees’ motivation.
  • Limits creativity and innovation.
  • Fosters the environment of mistrust and dissatisfaction.

Theory Y

Theory Y argues that employees are passionate about what they do, enjoy their work, and are capable of self-direction when specific conditions are created. This method is characterized by the fact that the leader who follow this form of approach assume a participation style when dealing with employees (Sousa & Rocha, 2019). Therefore, employee participation in the decision-making process is highly valued.

Theory Y Pros

  • Creates a professional environment where employees are more easily engaged and happier for staying or joining the company.
  • Encourages creativity and innovation.
  • It means the workforce will be more engaged, which generates enthusiasm and commitment.

Theory Y Cons

  • However, other choices should also be considered as it might not applicable to certain circumstances. For instance, emergency or well-organized environments
  • Humanize: Managers and employees must build relationships of trust and communication between manager and employees.
  • Takes longer and it requires more time to carry out than Theory X.

Theory X vs Theory Y Management Styles Comparison Chart

ComponentTheory YTheory
Worker’s motivationIntrinsic motivationCoercion
Assumption on employeesEmployees are self-driven due to motivation and love for their workEmployees hate their work and they must be pushed
CreativityHighly valuedLimited
Leadership styleParticipativeAuthoritarian
Job satisfactionHighLow
Worker’s moraleHighLow
Decision makingDecentralizedCentralized

Read also Open-Book Management Style

Is One Style Suitable for all Leadership Scenarios?

I would say that no one style of management fits in all leadership circumstances. Jones & George (2019) recommend that a dynamic, flexible and efficient management style is generally the most suitable choice. The applicability of Theory X or Theory Y respective could be rather different and will entirely depend on the ambiance, character of the employee and type of tasks at hand. For instance, in situations when work is highly automated and organized in a scheme, managers following Theory X can be more appropriate to the effect of making people stick to the procedures and resolving problems fast (Jones & George, 2019). Nonetheless, a managerial theory Y can be extremely effective to get more engagement and creativity applied in creative professions or knowledge-based institutions.

Read also United States vs Cambodia – Culture, Management Styles And Communication Strategies

Differences Between Theory Y And Democratic Decision Making Management Style

The difference between Theory Y management and democratic decision-making lies in the fact that Theory Y defines management as people-oriented, acknowledges their abilities and aims to develop their skills rather than control them. Instead, democratic decision making involves employees’ active participation in decision-making processes, implying a more equal distribution of power (Lee et al., 2019). The concept of Theory Y management focuses on devolving employees from hierarchical authority and making them part of the decision-making process. The specific practice of democratic decision-making means that employees are heard and given a chance to articulate their input and opinions to inform the final decision that is reached as a result of consensus, majority agreement, or mutual agreement (Lee et al., 2019). Management that adheres to the Theory Y is built on the belief that interactions with employees must try to understand and appreciate them as individuals and not merely as decision makers.

The Advantages of Understanding the Two Theories

Knowing Theory X and Theory Y provides a significant contribution to a manager’s effective leadership practice by easing identification of the underlying assumptions of employees and adjusting his/her managing style in line with the emergent requirements. Implementing Theory Y principles will enable managers to foster environment which puts motivating, fantasizing, and strengthening of employees first. Furthermore, familiarity with these theories leads to leaders having the ability to adjust their style depending on the group dynamics, while also taking into account the broader organizational factors, which consequently shifts the performance towards the goals of the organization.

Therefore, even though both Theory X and Theory Y suggest different approaches to managing human resources, it is better to adopt Theory Y approach as this approach allows greater self-management and hence, higher levels of morale as well as success for the organization in the end. Thus, effective leadership is shaped by a principle of conscious and flexible approach, including components of both theories, to be applied depending on circumstances and organization requirements.

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