Theory X vs Theory Y and Contractor Safety Management 

In the 1960s, social psychologist Douglas McGregor developed two contrasting theories that explained how managers’ beliefs about what motivates their people can affect their management style, Theory X and Theory Y.  Theory X managers believe that team members dislike their work and have little motivation and use an authoritarian style of management. This approach is very “hands-on” and usually involves micromanaging people’s work to ensure that it gets done properly.  Theory Y managers believe that people take pride in their work, see it as a challenge. They adopt a participative management style and, trust people to take ownership of their work and do it effectively by themselves. Traditional management of contractors safety reflects a Theory X approach, little trust, limited handing over of responsibility and  assumption of poor performance. Now that it has been confirmed beyond doubt that legally Principal Contractors can rely on the skills of their contractors to manage their own safety, perhaps it is time to look at our management styles and adopt processes for managing contractors reflecting a Theory Y approach.