Have you ever noticed when you are in traffic and in a hurry to get somewhere, it is almost impossible not to creep up closer to the person in front?
It is as if there is a force field around the front bumper of your vehicle and that by creeping up to the car in front it is possible to push their car faster so that we can get where we want to go quicker.
But have you ever thought what happens when someone starts to creep up too close behind your own car. Do you accelerate away smartly leaving them to catch up? Or do you slow down?
The fact is we are all human beings and the human reaction to being pushed in one direction is to resist or to push back in the opposite direction. (Remember what happens when a teenager is told to clean their room?)
If someone is trying to make us hurry up by driving too close we will almost invariably resist by slowing down. Even when we know this, we ourselves will still drive too close to the person in front when we want them to go faster and as a result we become even more frustrated when they slow down.
Our own behaviour is creating the conditions for our failure.
Fifty Years ago there was an American Business Guru called Douglas McGregor. Douglas McGregor was in the van of a growing band of enlightened management savants who appreciated this aspect of our behaviour and realised that most of the problems to do with lack of morale and performance at work are directly created by the way that managers behave towards their workforces.
To explain how this works McGregor coined the two terms, “Theory X” and “Theory Y”
“Theory X” being the model that describes the management behaviour that creates problems and “Theory Y”, the model that, recognising the problems created by the directive “Theory X” manager, creates the environment for the workforce that allows them the space they need to work as well as they can.
To explain these models briefly, “Theory X” management assumes that the workforce is lazy and ignorant and would rather do anything except work. The job of the “Theory X” manager therefore is to drive the workforce to do their work, to create an environment in which it is so difficult for the workforce to avoid work that they have no option but to work. This is seen as the traditional role of the manager by both the manager and the workforce.
“Theory Y” on the other hand assumes that the workforce is skilled and experienced, is willing to share that experience and take pride in what they do. The job of the “Theory Y” manager is therefore no longer to tell the workforce what he thinks they ought to be doing. The “Theory Y” manager’s job is to create the environment at work that will allow the workforce to take pride in what they do and to give them the support that they need.
The difference between the two models is the huge difference it makes to the way the workforce feels about what they do, and therefore their ability to do their jobs.
The problems occur when a creative and motivated workforce, is treated as if they are lazy and ignorant by a “Theory X” type of manager.
Predominant management behaviour, learned from our peers or from schools, is all about what managers can do to drive the workforce to perform better. The “Theory X” management strategy.
What Douglas McGregor shows us is that “Driving” performance is actually the management behaviour that causes poor performance and bad attitude.
The lesson from Douglas McGregor and “Theory Y” is, if you want to get there quicker, if you want to increase the performance of your own organisation, stop pushing the people who actually control your organisations ability to perform, the workforce.
If you want to go faster, Slow down!
Try the “Theory Y” approach next time you are stuck in traffic.
The more space you give to the people in front the quicker they will go. When we slow down we give the driver of the car front more space. He will stop feeling as if he is being pushed and will therefore speed up, By allowing the driver in front to feel that he is not being pushed we will get where we want to go quicker.
At work it is the same. The less direction and control the manager imposes on the workforce, the better they will perform.
Give people the space they need to do their jobs. You will be amazed at what happens.
Peter A Hunter Author Breaking the Mould.
Peter A Hunter. Author-Breaking the Mould http://www.breakingthemould.co.uk
If you have ever experienced or learned something which you then knew was instinctively right - you will never have forgotten it. Peter Hunter learned something years ago which, regrettably, most of us have still yet to learn. When we do - once we have understood the simplicity of his book ‘Breaking the Mould’ - it will transform our lives forever! Vic Baxter – Business Workout.