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Leadership :: Motivation Theory :: Mayo

Elton Mayo (1880 – 1949) believed that workers are not just concerned with money but could be better motivated by having their social needs met whilst at work (something that Taylor ignored). He introduced the Human Relation School of thought, which focused on managers taking more of an interest in the workers, treating them as people who have worthwhile opinions and realising that workers enjoy interacting together.

Mayo conducted a series of experiments at the Hawthorne factory of the Western Electric Company in Chicago

He isolated two groups of women workers and studied the effect on their productivity levels of changing factors such as lighting and working conditions.

He expected to see productivity levels decline as lighting or other conditions became progressively worse

What he actually discovered surprised him: whatever the change in lighting or working conditions, the productivity levels of the workers improved or remained the same.

From this Mayo concluded that workers are best motivated by:

  • Better communication between managers and workers ( Hawthorne workers were consulted over the experiments and also had the opportunity to give feedback)
  • Greater manager involvement in employees working lives ( Hawthorne workers responded to the increased level of attention they were receiving)
  • Working in groups or teams. (Hawthorne workers did not previously regularly work in teams)

In practice therefore businesses should re-organise production to encourage greater use of team working and introduce personnel departments to encourage greater manager involvement in looking after employees’ interests. His theory most closely fits in with a paternalistic style of management.

Source: http://tutor2u.net/business/gcse/people_motivation_theories.htm

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