Avoiding confrontation (unless you are genuinely being bullied, which is a different matter) and delivering results are the key tactics. Theory X managers (or indeed theory Y managers displaying theory X behaviour) are primarily results oriented - so orientate your your own discussions and dealings with them around results - ie what you can deliver and when. Theory X managers are facts and figures oriented - so cut out the incidentals, be able to measure and substantiate anything you say and do for them, especially reporting on results and activities. Theory X managers generally don't understand or have an interest in the human issues, so don't try to appeal to their sense of humanity or morality. Set your own objectives to meet their organisational aims and agree these with the managers; be seen to be self-starting, self-motivating, self-disciplined and well-organised - the more the X theory manager sees you are managing yourself and producing results, the less they'll feel the need to do it for you. Always deliver your commitments and promises. If you are given an unrealistic task and/or deadline state the reasons why it's not realistic, but be very sure of your ground, don't be negative; be constructive as to how the overall aim can be achieved in a way that you know you can deliver. Stand up for yourself, but constructively - avoid confrontation. Never threaten or go over their heads if you are dissatisfied or you'll be in big trouble afterwards and life will be a lot more difficult. If an X theory boss tells you how to do things in ways that are not comfortable or right for you, then don't questioning the process, simply confirm the end-result that is required, and check that it's okay to 'streamline the process' or 'get things done more efficiently' if the chance arises - they'll normally agree to this, which effectively gives you control over the 'how', provided you deliver the 'what' and 'when'. And this is really the essence of managing upwards X theory managers - focus and get agreement on the results and deadlines - if you consistently deliver, you'll increasingly be given more leeway on how you go about the tasks, which amounts to more freedom. Be aware also that many X theory managers are forced to be X theory by the short-term Life and Work of Douglas McGregor 7
demands of the organisation and their own superiors - an X theory manager is usually someone with their own problems, so try not to give them any more. Characteristics of the Theory Y Manager Focus on methods as well as results Forgiving Involved, interested Outgoing, friendly People-oriented Patient Asks, rewards Delegates Seeks to boost morale Seeks opinions of others Accepts responsibility Assigns pay levels fairly Looks at the big picture Participative, team builder Theory Y Management Implications If Theory Y holds, the firm can do many things to harness the motivational energy of its employees:
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