The Difference Between a Classical Management Theory & a Human Relations Theory by Stacy Zeiger, Demand Media
Human relations theory seeks to develop satisfied employees.
Classical management theory and human relations theory represent two views of management on the opposite ends of the spectrum. One view focuses on looking at workers solely as a means to get work done, while the other focuses on developing an organization and the behaviors and motivations of employees. Most managers find that a combination of the two theories serves them best in their businesses.
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What is Classical Management Theory?
Classical management theory involves creating multiple levels of workers to improve productivity. Employees at the lowest levels find their tasks overseen by supervisors who, in turn, are overseen by managers. At every level, employees are expected to perform tasks according to specific procedures designed to maximize productivity.
In addition, this theory focuses on an impersonal side of business. Employees and managers should not allow friendliness and personal interactions to become involved with the organization. Rules must be followed exactly, and the hiring and firing of employees must relate only to the skills they possess. Pros and Cons of Classical Management Theory
Classical management theory is not used in many organizations because of its shortcomings. While some components of the theory, such as designing procedures for completing a task and keeping personal issues out of business, help an organization focus on the job at hand, the theory fails to recognize the differences among employees. When employee feelings and opinions are not taken into account, the business may not grow or may experience high levels of employee turnover as employees fail to develop a relationship with the business and leave in search of a more satisfying job. What is Human Relations Theory?
Human relations theory, also known as behavioral management theory, focuses more on the individuals in a workplace than the rules, procedures and processes. Instead of directives coming directly from management, a human relations theory provides communication between employees and managers, allowing them to interact with one another to help make decisions. Instead of giving workers quotas and requiring certain procedures, workers are exposed to motivational and emotional tactics to get them to increase productivity. The focus of this style is creating fulfilled, productive workers and helping workers invest in a company. Pros and Cons of Human Relations Theory
While many companies operate based on the human relations theory, this type of management has dangers. Companies risk workers becoming too social or easily swayed by personal emotions and opinions when making decisions, rather than relying on hard data. It may be more difficult to reprimand employees for poor performance or dismiss them once they have become invested in the company. Despite these risks, human relations theory has the potential to increase employee retention rates and productivity. As employees feel more valued by a company, they invest in that company and its greater good.