The human relations movement
This is a management approach that assumes that workers are not only motivated by financial factors but by social and psychological factors as well. It assumes that if the employee is treated as more than just part of the machinery in the organization, that if the employee is helped to grow within the organization, then the organization will grow as well. Several reasons led to the coming up of theory and it had several contributors to it.
This movement arose out of several factors
The Hawthorne studies
Philosophy of industrial humanism
The Hawthorne experiments
Behavioural scientists led by Elton Mayo began carrying out experiments which were known as the Hawthorne experiments. These were:
The illumination experiments
The relay assembly test room
The interviewing programme
The bank wiring observation room
The illumination experiments (1924-1927)
These were performed to find out the effects of different levels of illumination on productivity of labour. The brightness of the light was increased and decreased to find out the effect on the test groups . Surprisingly, the productivity increased when the level of illumination was decreased. It was concluded that factors other than light were also important.
Relay assembly test room experiments
Small groups of six female telephone relay assemblers were selected. Each group was separate rooms. From time to time, changes were made in working hours, rest periods, lunch breaks and so on. They were allowed to choose their own rest periods and to give suggestions. Output increased in both control rooms.
21,000 employees were interviewed over a period of three years to help ascertain the reasons as to why productivity had increased.
Bank wiring observation
A group of 14 workers in the bank wiring room were placed under observation for 6 months. A workers pay depended on the performance of the group as a whole. Initially, it was thought that the efficient workers would put pressure on the less efficient workers.However it was found that the group established its own standards of output and social pressure was used to achieve the standards of output.
Changes in output could be linked to changes not only in the work conditions but also in the worker attitudes and social relations
Workers had a strong need to cooperate and communicate with fellow workers
Social relationships among workers and participation in decision making had a greater effect on productivity than working conditions
Productivity can be increased if workers are allowed to talk about matters that are important to them
The Wagner act, was established in 1935 in the united states of America. With the establishment of the act, workers now had the legal right to organise or join in labour unions and to bargain collectively with their employers.
Many managers tried to keep their workers from joining the trade unions. The solution offered by the human relations movement was to satisfy employees thereby making it less likely for them to join trade unions.
The philosophy of industrial humanism
What one believes and assumes about what motivates their team is what determines what style of management they choose to adopt. If the believe is that workers dislike work, then the manager will likely go for theory X which is an authoritarian style of management but if the assumption is that employees take pride in doing their job, then the management style likely to be adopted is theory Y, the participative style of management.
Assumes that workers;
Avoid responsibility and need to be directed
Have to be forced, controlled and threatened to deliver what is needed
Need to be supervised at all times with controls in place.
Need to be enticed to produce results.
Assumes that workers
Take responsibility and are motivated to fulfill goals they are given
Seek and accept responsibility and not need much direction
Consider work as a natural part of life and solve work problems imaginatively
Theory X- management is authoritarian and centralised control is returned while in theory Y, management style is participative. Workers are involved in decision making but management returns power to implement decisions.
Theory X assumes that people dislike work, that they want to avoid it and do not want to take responsibility. Theory Y believes that people are self motivated and thrive on responsibility.
Douglas McGregor recommended theory Y.
Mary Parker Follet
Introduced the concepts of social work and political science. Her findings among others include:
Managers should not expect good performance from their workers, rather they should motivate it. Management should get to know what motivates each individual employee in the organisation to get them to work harder. Employees should not be coerced into performing well.
Use of “power with” rather than “power over”. Instead of establishing a strict hierarchy and delegating power to certain individuals over others, the belief is that workers should practice coactive power. Powering with their team is better than powering over them. This way each member feels just as valued as the next. This, however, is not to say that hierarchy should be entirely eliminated. Structure is important but employees should not feel like they are less important than their managers.
Use of integration to resolve conflicts like providing a solution that offers mutual benefit to both parties involved, for example identifying and meeting each parties underlying need.Integrative unity is the secret of success in an organisation where different departments are present and working to achieve the same goal
Group power is more valuable than personal power. Organisations do not exist for one person’s benefit, but rather the entire company of workers. This selfless mindset leads workers to think that they are on the same team instead of a competition.
Contributions to management
Workers are an important asset in every organization
Humans are an important and precious asset of an organization. If they work in a good environment and are motivated by their managers, they will work more happily. It is human nature that if a person praises their work, then they will work with more passion and try to make it even better. The Hawthorne experiments also provide this view that making work environment better will help workers perform better.
Financial incentives alone cannot increase performance. Psychological and social needs must also be met in order to increase performance.
Too many complex channels of communication bring about inefficiencies in work. Good communication between supervisors and subordinates improves the relations and productivity of subordinates.
Workers want freedom
Managers have come to realise that when workers are allowed and encouraged to participate in decision making concerning matters affecting them, when they are allowed autonomy, the right to be creative and use their initiative, when they are given special attention and they are given the freedom to express their views, when they are treated with dignity and respect, their performance improves drastically.
Social factors are important
Employee relationships are an important factor for managers to consider. Employees should be structured in such a way that they frequently share tasks, information and knowledge with one another.
The human relations movement received criticism in several areas
The Hawthorne studies for example have been criticised on the methodology used during the experiments. During the relay assembly test room, workers developed what was termed as the ‘ Hawthorne effect’. The Hawthorne findings claim that workers productivity increased with increased attention the workers received from their supervisors. That this made them feel important. But critics refute this claim, stating that production rates only soared because the workers were being watched and they had to impress.
Another argument is that it gives too much importance to freedom of workers. The constructive role of managers is not given much consideration.