Why you should believe in your staff. As above so below

15 Dec

If you have studied management you have come across the teachings of Douglas Mcgregor and his X and Y theory. Mcgregors theory dates back to 1960 where he placed workers into 2 different categories.

  • Theory X = We work because we are paid and if we are not properly supervised we will stop work= Extrinsic motivation
  • Theory Y = People work because they want to and they feel a sense of achievement or satisfaction from this =Intrinsic motivation

We are either one or the other. So as workers or managers we are either Theory X or Theory Y devotees. If you are energized by your job and firmly a member of the Theory Y camp what happens when you have a manager that is a solid Theory X believer or vice versa? does it matter? well apparently it does.

Researchers have studied the impact on management or leadership styles on the workforce and have discovered that Theory X managers usually end up with staff that need constant supervision. Theory Y managers have staff that enjoy being there and have a sense of fulfillment from where they work. Does this just happen by chance or is there more to this. Apparently there is.

Research taken by a team of people led by Robert Rosenthal uncovered the Pygmalion effect. The researchers went into an elementary school in America and set intelligence tests for the students. The researchers then told teachers in each classroom that certain students where well above normal in academic ability. The students were identified to the teachers but the teachers were told to not say anything to the students or to do anything throughout the school year that would favour these students. The Teachers were told that there also would be a certain amount of observation of their teaching to ensure no favourability to the students.

At the end of the school year the students were once again tested and the results showed that yes indeed these students had academic results that outshone the average. Which is exactly what the teachers expected. Only for the teachers to be informed by the research team that the test results from the start of the year were false and these students where simply average.

If this was true then what caused the students academic abilities to gain such an increase?

It was the Teachers non verbal communication with the pupils that had instilled these beliefs within the students that they were “A” students rather than students of average ability.

This happens within our workplace too! If your manager has the belief that you should be free to make decisions and instil you with a sense of trust then you react positively to this and model these beliefs. You also react to managerial skills that provide constant supervision and subsequently when provided with no supervision you will happily down tools and happily look for opportunities to avoid being productive.

As mangers we need to ask ourselves a couple of questions

  1. Do I trust my employees to do the right thing?
  2. Have I told them or shown my staff how much I appreciate them today?
  3. What have I done to make someone happy where I work today?

You want a happy, productive, engaged staff then maybe it’s time for you to look closer to your management style and the type of workforce you want to help create.

” As above so below”

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  1. Why you should let your staff go surfing | Thelollipopeffect - December 21, 2011

    […] understand that they are trusted to do the right thing.  We spoke about this in the article on X and Y employees. Yvon is definitely a Y employer. If you can trust your staff to complete the tasks they are given […]


  2. Happy vs sad workers | Thelollipopeffect - July 8, 2013

    […] is that they feel that way too and will want to down tools as soon as you are not around. My blog here explain Maslow’s X and Y theory and it’s connection with your workforce […]


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