Understanding what motivates employees to come to work on a daily basis is an important function of management. Some individuals take great pride in the work they do and receive a great deal of personal satisfaction from their workplace accomplishments. Others may view the workplace as a place of burden, nothing more than a means to survive. In either case, employees’ beliefs, values, and assumptions about their work can greatly shape their behavior and determine what factors motivate them to perform at a high level.

Social psychologist Douglas McGregor proposed two contrasting theories of human motivation known as Theory X and Theory Y. These theories suggest that there are two basic approaches to managing employees. By understanding these two approaches, managers can adapt their style and ...

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