Basic approaches that have evolved over time to improve productivity

Human Relations Contributors

Rensis Likert

Management Systems and Styles

Dr. Rensis Likert has conducted much research on human behavior within organizations, particularly in the industrial situation.

He has examined different types of organizations and leadership styles, and he asserts that to achieve maximum profitability, good labor relations and high productivity, every organization must make optimum use of their human assets.

The form of the organization which will make greatest use of the human capacity, Likert contends, is;

  • highly effective work groups linked together in an overlapping pattern by other similarly effective groups.

Organizations at present have widely varying types of management style and Likert has identified four main systems:

Management Styles

The exploitive - authoritative system, where decisions are imposed on subordinates, where motivation is characterized by threats, where high levels of management have great responsibilities but lower levels have virtually none, where there is very little communication and no joint teamwork.

The benevolent - authoritative system, where leadership is by a condescending form of master-servant trust, where motivation is mainly by rewards, where managerial personnel feel responsibility but lower levels do not, where there is little communication and relatively little teamwork.

The consultative system, where leadership is by superiors who have substantial but not complete trust in their subordinates, where motivation is by rewards and some involvement, where a high proportion of personnel, especially those at the higher levels feel responsibility for achieving organization goals, where there is some communication (both vertical and horizontal) and a moderate amount of teamwork.

The participative - group system, which is the optimum solution, where leadership is by superiors who have; complete confidence in their subordinates, where motivation is by economic rewards based on goals which have been set in participation, where personnel at all levels feel real responsibility for the organizational goals, where there is much communication, and a substantial amount of cooperative teamwork.

This fourth system is the one which is the ideal for the profit oriented and human-concerned organization, and Likert says (The Human Organization, Mcgraw Hill, 1967) that all organizations should adopt this system. Clearly, the changes involved may be painful and long-winded, but it is necessary if one is to achieve the maximum rewards for the organization.

To convert an organization, four main features of effective management must be put into practice:

Features of Effective Management

  • The motivation to work must be fostered by modern principles and techniques, and not by the old system of rewards and threats.
  • Employees must be seen as people who have their own needs, desires and values and their self-worth must be maintained or enhanced.
  • An organization of tightly knit and highly effective work groups must be built up which are committed to achieving the objectives of the organization.
  • Supportive relationships must exist within each work group. These are characterized not by actual support, but by mutual respect.

The work groups which form the nuclei of the participative group system, are characterized by the group dynamics:

  • Members are skilled in leadership and membership roles for easy interaction.
  • The group has existed long enough to have developed a well established relaxed working relationship.
  • The members of the group are loyal to it and to each other since they have a high degree of mutual trust.
  • The norms, values and goals of the group are an expression of the values and needs of its members.
  • The members perform a "linking-pin" function and try to keep the goals of the different groups to which they belong in harmony with each other.

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