Managing Your “Boss from Planet X”

by | Farr Factor

Are you thinking that the owner or manager at the salon where you work might be from another planet?

Douglas McGregor, an American social psychologist, proposed his famous “X-Y” theory in 1960 in his book The Human Side of Enterprise.

Theory X managers generally get poor results. Enlightened managers use Theory Y, which produces better performance and results, and allows staff to grow and develop.

Theory X (“Authoritarian Management” Style)

  • The average person dislikes work and will avoid it if he/she can.
  • Therefore, most people must be forced with the threat of punishment to work toward organizational objectives.
  • The average person prefers to be directed and prefers to avoid responsibility; is relatively unambitious, and wants security above all else.

Theory Y (“Participative Management” Style)

  • Effort in work is as natural as in play. People will apply self-control and self-direction in the pursuit of organizational objectives, without external control or the threat of punishment. Commitment to objectives is a function of rewards associated with their achievement.
  • People usually accept and often seek responsibility.
  • The capacity to use a high degree of imagination, ingenuity and creativity in solving organizational problems is widely, not narrowly, distributed in the population.
  • In industry, the intellectual potential of the average person is only partly utilized.

Theory X Manager Characteristics
Perhaps the most recognizable aspects of McGregor’s XY Theory are found in the behaviors of autocratic (domineering) business owners (or managers) who use autocratic management styles, characterized by:

  • Results-driven and deadline-driven goals, to the exclusion of everything else
  • Intolerance of any deviations or perceived failures
  • Distance and detachment
  • Aloofness and arrogance
  • Elitism
  • A short temper
  • Threats to make people follow instructions
  • Demands and not requests
  • Refusal to build a sense of team
  • Lack of concern about staff welfare or morale
  • Pride, sometimes to the point of self-destruction
  • One-way communication
  • Fundamental insecurity and possible neurosis
  • Vengefulness and recrimination
  • Lack of thanks or praise
  • Withholding rewards and suppression of pay
  • Assigning blame instead of learning
  • Hostility to suggestions
  • Hostility to criticism and a likeliness to retaliate if from below or peer group
  • Belief that giving orders is delegating
  • Holding on to responsibility but shifting accountability to subordinates

Working for a Theory X boss isn’t easy, but there are ways of managing these people upwards. Avoiding confrontation (unless you are genuinely being bullied, which is a different matter) and delivering results are the key tactics.

  • Theory X managers (or indeed Theory Y managers displaying Theory X behavior) are primarily results oriented – so orient your own discussions and dealings with them around results, i.e. what you can deliver and when.
  • Theory X managers are facts- and figures-oriented – so cut out the incidentals, and be able to measure and substantiate anything you say and do for them.
  • Theory X managers generally don’t understand or have an interest in the human issues, so don’t try to appeal to their sense of humanity or morality. Set your own objectives to meet their organizational aims. Be seen to be self-starting, self-motivating, self-disciplined and well-organized – the more the Theory X manager sees you are managing yourself and producing results, the less they’ll feel the need to do it for you.
  • Always deliver your commitments and promises. If you’re given an unrealistic task and/or deadline, state the reasons why it’s not realistic, but be very sure of your ground and don’t be negative; be constructive as to how the overall aim can be achieved in a way that you know you can deliver.
  • Stand up for yourself, but do so constructively – avoid confrontation. Never threaten or go over their head if you’re dissatisfied, or you’ll be in big trouble afterward, and life will be a lot more difficult.

So, if you want to keep your right mind while working for an “X-er”, focus and get agreement on specific results such as PSA, PCA, LPPA and all tanning business revenue stream essentials. If you consistently deliver, you’ll be given more freedom on how you go about the tasks. Lastly, remember a Theory X boss is usually someone with their own personal problems, so try not to give them any more.

Testimonials for John Farr

Are you ready to work with the best tanning consultant in the industry?

Sign up for a no-obligation consultation so John can review your revenues, marketing direction and more, then he’ll provide some advice to increase these and other aspects of your tanning salon business. You’re only one step away from working with the industry No. 1 tanning consultant. Contact John Farr today to begin to begin your tanning salon transformation!