Assumptions of Theory X and Theory Y

Management style in organizations is highly influenced by the manager’s beliefs and assumptions about human behavior at the workplace and focus on what motivates the members of the team. Theory X and Theory Y are the two theories of motivation suitable for the workplace; the essence of these theories states that how two different managerial styles motivate the workers on the basis of two opposing assumptions.

Douglas McGregor developed this Theory X and Theory Y, which are the theories of motivation and management. McGregor’s Theory X and Theory Y are based on Maslow’s Hierarchy of needs. Theory X is based on lower order needs and Theory Y is based on the higher order needs, here management could follow either set of needs in order to motivate the workers/employees, but Theory Y gives better results rather than following Theory X, because Theory X involves strict supervision, penalties and external rewards in order to motivate the employees. These two views theorized how managers assume human behavior at the workplace and it leads to the difference in leadership styles followed by the managers.

Theory X

Theory X assumes that employees dislike working, naturally, they are unmotivated, ambitionless, non-initiative and dislike responsibilities.

Usually, Theory X managers believe that their workers/ employees are less intelligent, lazier then the managers and individual goal oriented and work only for the sustainable income. In order to make them more productive managers assumes that they have to force the employees by following hard and soft approaches.

Hard approach

The hard approach relies on coercion, close supervision, command, control, implicit threats and imminent punishment which results in purposely low output, hostility and minimal cooperation.

Soft approach

The soft approach seeks harmony in the workplace to make employees more productive with the hope that they will cooperate when they are asked.

Assumptions of Theory X

Assumptions of Theory X are based on manager’s perception of the nature of employees or workers in the workplace the assumptions of Theory X are as follows

  • Employees does not like work and always try to escape from work whenever possible
  • Theory X employees show high resist towards change and these people generally dislike responsibilities.
  • A close supervision is necessary for them in order to make them productive
  • High degree of control and continuous supervision is necessary at energy step of the work
  • People must be threatened and directed in an authoritarian style

Generally, there are many controversial opinions regarding Theory X assumptions. Theory X is more suitable for occupations with manual labor or workers in the jobs associated with assembling of parts and the jobs where the workers want to fulfill their lower order needs of the hierarchy. Utilizing Theory X at suitable workplaces can maximize mass production with more quality According to McGregor once the lower order needs are fulfilled then thus no longer are motivators for Theory X people. In such situations, employees show dislike towards work and become individual goal oriented and neglect organizational goals. From this reason of Theory X self-fulfilling prophecy nature, McGregor proposed another theory which is alternative to the Theory X i.e. Theory Y.

Theory Y

Theory Y managers believe that their employees/workers are self-directed, highly motivated, committed, highly skilled and capable of exercise their efforts in an inherent manner in order to achieve the individual and organizational objectives. Theory Y managers assume that control and supervision are not necessary for these people to meet their own objectives and organizational objectives.

Assumptions of Theory Y

  • Theory Y employees perceive that their jobs are quite normal and relaxing
  • Skills and capabilities can make them more productive
  • They utilize their potentiality in reaching the individual and organizational goals
  • Employees never completely satisfy in fulfilling self-esteem and self-actualization needs

Implications of Theory Y

Delegation and decentralization

If the organizations decentralize control and reduce the various levels of management so that each manager has to control many subordinates by delegating decision making and responsibility to them. It is possible in Theory Y because these employees seek responsibility, self-directed and need no control.

Job enlargement

Increase in job tasks and responsibilities and broadening the scope of employee’s opportunities in fulfilling their ego needs.

Consulting employees/participative management

Employee’s involvement in decision making can prove the capabilities of the employees and helps in fulfilling their higher level needs.