Behavioral and Human Relations Approach Toward Management

Behavioral and human relations approach toward management is the most important matter for an organization. It is one of the most important keys to run management properly. So here we provide a brief history of the human relations approach toward management.

Human relations approach toward management

The criticism of scientific and administrative management as advocated by Taylor and Fayol respectively gave birth to the behavioral approach to management. They were criticized by several behavioral scientists for their indifference and insensitiveness to the human side of manages mental dealings.

Instead of taking a mechanistic view of the worker as creatures with only economic needs, behavioral scientists came to consider them as people with social and psychological needs, too, such as recognition, respect, social contact, freedom, and achievement. To them, a business organization is a psycho-social system with a primary focus on the human side.

A good number of sociologists and psychologists like Abraham Maslow, Hugo Munstergerg, Rensis Likert, Douglas McGregor, Frederick Herzberg, Mary Parker Fillet, and Chester Barnard are the major contributors to this school of thought, which is further subdivided by some writers into the Human Relations approach and the Human Behavioral approach, the latter being considered as a modified version of the former.

By far the most important contribution to the human relations school of thought was made by Elton Mayo and his colleagues through their famous Hawthorne study. According to them, employees do not only have economic needs, but also social and psychological needs, which are to be satisfied for motivating them.

McGregor, Likert, Chester Barnard, Kurt Lewin, and others, classified as exponents of the Human Behavioral School, modified the classical Human Behavior approach of Mayo. They considered the human side of the enterprise as an interactive subsystem of the total organizational system.

As distinguished from the classical human relations theory, the emphasizes synchronization of group goals within the broader framework of management. It does not consider the goals of the different groups of employees and managers as conflicting with each other but rather co-operative.

The human Relations theory recognizes the social and psychological factors.

The Human Relations theory of management arose out of a reaction against the Scientific Management theory and Universal Management Process theory of Taylor and Fayol respectively.

The main criticisms leveled against them are their indifference to and neglect of the human side of the enterprise. Employees, according to their critics, were viewed as mere parts to be fused in the job structure disregarding their human needs and aspirations.

While Taylor and Fayol view people at work merely as economic beings the Human Relations theorist emphasis the need for viewing them as social beings with social and psychological needs such as recognition, respect, achievement, and social contact. This School regards a business organization as a psycho-social system with much emphasis on the human side.

Human relations experts believe that management should recognize the need for employees for recognition and social acceptance.

Therefore managers need not have only technical skills but also human relations skills to interact with their subordinates as human beings.

Followers of this school believe that managers must know why their subordinates behave as they do and what psychological and social factors influence them.

According to these theorists, since groups provide members with feelings of acceptance and dignity, management can look upon the workgroup as a potentially productive force.

The human relations school views an organization as a psycho-social system in which workers and employees are human beings in the first place.

Elton Mayo and Hawthorne studies:

A good number of sociologists and psychologists Kike McGregor, Likert, Munsterberg, Simon, etc. contributed to the development of the human relations school of Management. However, Elton Mayo and Hugo Munstergerg are considered pioneers of this school.

But by far the most important contribution to this school of thought was made by Elton Mayo and his associates through the Hawthorne plant of the Western Electric Company between 1927 and 1932.

The findings of Mayo and his colleagues from Hawthorne studies led to the conclusion that a human/social element operated in the workplace and that productivity increases were as much an outgrowth of group dynamics as of managerial demands and physical factors.

Another important suggestion that came from the Hawthorne studies was that social factors might be as powerful a determinant of worker-productivity as were financial motives.

Mayo found that informal work groups grew out of formal organizations with their own leaders.

Influence systems, norms for appropriate behavior, and pressures for conformity to the maximum and minimum acceptable levels of performance.

The human/social factor plays a prominent role in the workplace according to Mayo studies.

Improvement of productivity, according to Mayo and his colleagues is the result of such social factors as morale, satisfactory interrelationships between members of a workgroup, a sense of belonging and effective management.

It is this kind of management with an understanding of human behavior, particularly group behavior that serves an enterprise through such interpersonal skills as motivating, counseling leading, and communicating.

Human Relations Approach toward Management
Human Relations Approach

This phenomenon according to Weihrich and Koontz, “arising basically from people being noticed has been known as the Hawthorne effect.”

Improvement of productivity, according to Mayo and his colleagues is the result of such social factors as morale, satisfactory interrelationships between members of a work-group, a sense of belonging and effective management.

The most important contribution of Hawthorne studies is that employees or workers are social beings, and work, in organizations, is not merely matters of machinery and methods but also of fitting them into a social system resulting in a complete socio-technical system.

This led to the recognition of managers as people operating in a social system and they must have some knowledge or understanding of behavioral sciences as applied to management.

In other words, Mayo and his associates underscored the need for a greater and deeper understanding of the social and behavioral aspects of management.

Critics of this school, however, point out that Mayo gave unreasonably heavy emphasis to the social or human side as against organizational needs.

It is also criticized on the ground that this facilitates the exploitation of employees by keeping them satisfied and happy manipulating their emotions which in fact, serves the management goal of increasing productivity.

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