What Do You Believe About People?

I get in to discussions all the time with leaders about their beliefs about people. Here is some food for thought on beliefs about people. Take your time to think thoroughly about your view of your workforce or the workforce you will recruit if you are just starting out. What do you think about them as people, what are your fundamental views? I have provided below a long standing theory about human behavior defined by Douglas McGregor MIT Professor in his book The Human Side of Enterprise published in 1960. Much research has been done since professor McGregor provided his theory X and Y and the basic concept about how people may be viewed by others still stands in good stead and surfaces often in current workforce behavior research and writings. I will provide a summary here for your consideration when defining your beliefs. It is clear that behind every managerial decision or action are assumptions about human nature and human behavior. I will also provide some additional insight provided by Dan Pink in his recent book Drive where he has provided a similar designation as McGregor as he describes behavioral tendencies as Type I and Type X

Theory X

1.????The average human being has an inherent dislike of work and will avoid it if they can.

2.????Because of this human characteristic or dislike of work, most people must be coerced, controlled, directed, and threatened with punishment to get them to put forth adequate effort toward the achievement of organizational objectives.

3.????The average human being prefers to be directed, wishes to avoid responsibility, has relatively little ambition and wants security above all.

Theory Y

1.????The expenditure of physical and mental effort in work is as natural as play or rest.

2.????External control and the threat of punishment are not the only means of bringing about effort toward organizational objectives. Man will exercise self-direction and self-control in the service of objectives to which he is committed.

3.????Commitment to objectives is a function of the rewards associated with their achievement. The most significant of such rewards, e.g., the satisfaction of ego and self-actualization needs, can be direct products of efforts directed toward organizational objectives

4.????The average human being learns, under proper conditions, not only to accept but to seek responsibility.

5.????The capacity to exercise a relatively high degree of imagination, ingenuity, and creativity in the solution of organizational problems is widely not narrowly, distributed in the population.

6.????Under the conditions of modern industrial life, the intellectual potentialities of the average human being are only partially utilized

McGregor?s theory X and Y is timeless and perhaps it is useful to think about where your beliefs about people are on the continuum between Theory X and Y as you believe they might apply in today?s work environment.

Define your viewpoint about fundamental human behavior


Dan Pink in his recent book Drive talks about Intrinsic versus extrinsic motivation and his thinking is supported by research and the definition of Self Determination Theory by researchers and authors Deci and Ryan. He has labeled his theory I and X which is representative of Intrinsic and Extrinsic motivation and also in support of the continued validity of McGregor?s research many years ago.

What do you think? How do you think your thinking or the thinking of leaders that work with you impact their daily decisions as they lead teams to achieve your organizational goals?

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