Most Supervisors tend to subscribe to one of two thoughts on employee motivation. Intuitive Supervisors can "Prime" their employees for success by simply setting positive expectations. Supervisors that are short-fused can and often do, set negative expectations that become self-fulfilling prophecies. Depending on the outlook adopted, it can effect motivation and productivity of employees across the entire organization.

Social psychologist Douglas McGregor, in his 1960 book, The Human Side of Enterprise, introduced two opposing motivational theories to the world of business management. McGregor referred to the two theories as Theory X and Theory Y. The arguments presented two conflicting views of leadership that took the management world by storm. The basic underlying principle for both theories is the same: that the estimate of good leadership depends on the ability to be able to effectively and efficiently manage all resources of the organization, including its employees.

Theory X, based on the assumption that people in general, do not like work and will try to avoid if possible. Subscribers to this theory also tend to think most people are neither ambitious nor responsible, neither intelligent nor creative. They are vulnerable, self-centered and do not readily accept or adapt to changes. Consequently, Theory X states that management is required to control tightly and supervise the employees to ensure that work get's done effectively.

This demands a hierarchical structure of power in the workplace; that is, to develop a system that allows management to keep strict control over the employees. Supervisors working under this theory believe that employees have no interest in the actual work and are interested in the money or paycheck they receive at the end of every pay period.

Herein lies the biggest flaw or disadvantage under Theory X. Employees operating under the Theory X system will never be truly satisfied. Their monetary needs may be met, but since the management does not provide them with higher levels of satisfaction, the employees may never tap their full potential. The productivity of the workplace may suffer as a result of this.

In contrast to Theory X, Theory Y states that self-esteem and self-actualization are strong motivational factors for employees. Therefore, to motivate employees and improve the productivity of the organization, Supervisors under this theory believe, that it is important to meet a higher level of satisfaction for employees. Just meeting their monetary needs will not be enough. This theory states that under the appropriate professional setting, people can be productive, creative, responsible and committed to their work.

Employee satisfaction can be increased by encouraging participation of employees and delegating responsibility to them. Frequent performance appraisals and setting goals that are exciting and challenging force people to think. In turn, theory Y Supervisors are more likely to develop satisfied and motivated employees.

McGregor's theory of X and Y rings true, even some fifty years later. It is far more likely to improve the morale and productivity of the workplace with positive expectations and respect (theory Y), than with theory X. Supervisors must have frequent communication with their employees. It is not enough to just communicate; Supervisors must be active listeners to create an environment wherein employees are motivated and satisfied.

In the field of direct care, Supervisors have infrequent contact with some Direct Support Professionals. This is especially true with residential based employees. Extra effort should be made in order to keep a connection with these employees. Often they work very long hours and endure many mentally exhausting experiences on a daily basis. Some employees may feel their work is a personal calling and need less supervisor interaction. This is not the case for all employees in the direct care field. Often the stress can become so great the Supervisor does not realize until the employee is ready to resign, sometimes even without notice.

Author's Bio: 

Bobby Harris is a driven, experienced and knowledgeable professional within areas such as healthcare, childhood education, abuse intervention and crisis prevention; organizational leadership and intellectual / developmental disabilities. Bobby managed to earn his bachelors degree in social work,as well as his masters of science in health care administration; while boasting a professional curriculum within the health and human services branches dating back to the mid 90s!

On the premises of such an extensive background, Bobby is keen on sharing his wealth of insights, skills, tools, tips and consideration through his inspired and reader-friendly articles.

Learn more about Motivational Management, DSP Portfolio Creation, Direct Support Professionals, Developmental and Intellectual Disabilities visit “Direct Support Solutions” or facebook/Directsupportsolutions.