Is a Bottom-up Approach a Theory Y Approach?

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Bottom-up Approach > Best Practices > Is a Bottom-up Approach a Theory Y Approach?

Is a Bottom-up Approach a Theory Y Approach?
David Wilson, Manager, Canada, Premium Member
Theory X and Theory Y are 1960's theories of human motivation created and developed by Douglas McGregor at the MIT Sloan School of Management. They describe two very different attitudes toward workforce motivation. McGregor felt companies followed either one or the other approach.
- In Theory X, which has been proven counter-effective in most modern practice, management assumes employees are inherently lazy and will avoid work if they can and that they inherently dislike work.
- In Theory Y, management assumes employees may be ambitious and self-motivated and exercise self-control.
It is believed the talents of employees are under utilized in most organizations. Is Theory Y comparable to a bottom-up approach?

Theory Y may Lead to a Bottom up Approach
Andrea Kelly
Theory Y is not the same as the bottom up approach. Theory Y is one view of management of their employees. However, this view of the managers may influence or determine the type of approach that is used in decision making.

Theory X or Theory y versus Bottom-up Perspective
Earl G. Rowe, Project Manager, Jamaica, Member
According to Douglas McGregor, Theory Y employees are self-motivating. However, if Theory Y employees are not supported by management, they will become demotivated and or demoralized and withdrawn.
Management's inability to recognize this scenario will tend to label these employees in a Theory X perspective. This autocratic management approach excludes functional level employees from the organization's decision making process; in direct contrast to the bottom-up perspective.

Theory X and Bottom Up
Jaap de Jonge, Editor, Netherlands
@Earl G. Rowe: Indeed the self fulfilling prophecy you are describing is realistic: an authoritarian (Theory X) manager is going to see his own thinking confirmed because of 1. confirmation bias (he sees what he wants to see), and after some time, 2. when employees are 'giving up' they will start behaving in a Theory X mode. This effect will be enhanced since 3. others who don't want to work in this way will leave the company.
So going back to the question by David, I believe that indeed a bottom up approach and Theory Y are conducive to one another, as are also a top down approach and Theory X.

Bottom Up Change Has a Better Chance with a Theory Y Mindset
Brett E Holdeman, Student (University), United States, SIG Leader
This is actually a good idea! Utilizing self-motivated individuals who aren't afraid to assume self-control channeling these traits into change driven up from bottom, is actually a genius idea!
They'll not only own the assessment of what needs to change and why, as well as where the firm will be and able to go afterward. Coupled with a sense of ownership this would be a better method than what we've all seen in the past - top-down change fails as often as it succeeds. Because top management invariably misses something in the pre-initiative stage, whether it's the effects of software bugs, people feeling the change has added to their plates far more than before, or the cost overruns that bring c-level change after blowing the budget.
I'd rather gamble, and that's what we do when we set change initiatives in motion, on the Theory Y folks, and those looking up from the bottom!

Theory y and Bottom-Up Go Hand-in-hand
Brett E Holdeman, Student (University), United States, SIG Leader
McGregor felt Theory X employees were lazy and only out for themselves and what they could gain from the company due to their innate selfishness.
Theory Y assumes employees are innately good and will work together for the good of the organization, which I agree with for the most part.
If employees seek the firm's best, they can also be counted on to give valid inputs as to what should work best, as opposed to what would likely fail to add value to the organization's endeavors.
Those who believe in Theory Y should also be willing to try a bottom-up approach, as those doing the day-to-day work are in good position to make suggestions that increase productivity and eliminate waste, both adding to the bottom line of profitability!

Special Interest Group Leader
Brett E Holdeman
Student (University)

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