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Management styles

How approaches to management impact staff.

Management style is affected by the manager’s own beliefs and perceptions about their staff. The management style, in turn has an overriding effect on the employees’ behaviour. Unfortunately, this often means that whatever the manager expects of the employee is what they actually get from the employee!

The XY theory of management

American social psychologist Douglas McGregor identified two different ways of managing people. The Theory X and Theory Y management styles largely depend on the manager’s beliefs about their staff.

Theory X

The Theory X manager believes that people will do the absolute minimum that they can get away with, that they cannot be trusted and that people are fundamentally lazy. This leads the manager to behave in a distrusting way towards their employees - perhaps micromanaging, checking up on them, not being flexible and maintaining distance from the team.

This management style can be extremely unpleasant for people to work under. Some people may become despondent and unhappy, but still try to do the best they can. While others may begin to behave the way that the manager expects them to. For example they may feel that if they are treated like a child they will behave as one.

Theory Y

The Theory Y manager believes that people can be trusted, want to achieve and want to do a good job for a reasonable day’s pay. They trust people to work well and to do a good job. They believe that employees have a valuable contribution to make and consult with them.

This management style helps people to feel valued and appreciated. It encourages initiative and growth.

Are you X or Y?

How do you treat the people in your team? Do you recognise your own X or Y behaviour? Are there situations which drive you to becomean  X manager? What affect does this have on your team? Think about your own behaviour and reactions to certain situations and consider the impact this has on the people you manage.

Page last edited Apr 01, 2016

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