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Human Relations Management Theory

Jeanne Dininni

Using human relations theory to motivate employees to excellence

The human relations school of management has been around for quite some time, enjoying fairly wide acceptance. And while, even today not every company or manager embraces this management model, there's little doubt that it has changed overall management practice for the better.


Often referred to as motivational theory, human relations management theory views the employee differently than the more autocratic management theories of the past. Based on Douglas McGregor's X and Y Theories, HR management theory (Theory Y), assumes that people want to work, that they're responsible and self-motivated, that they want to succeed and that they understand their own position in the company hierarchy. This is the exact opposite of Theory X, which presumes that employees are lazy and unmotivated, that they seek nothing more from their jobs than security and that they require discipline from without. In short, human relations theory, rather than viewing the worker as merely one more cog in the company wheel, asserts that the organization will prosper as it helps the employee prosper. According to human relations management theory, some positive management actions that lead to employee motivation and improved performance are these:

1. Treating employees as if work is as natural as play or rest, just as motivational theory states

2. Sharing the big-picture objectives toward which their work is aimed

3. Empowering them to innovate and make as many independent decisions as they can handle

4. Training and developing them, increasing freedom and responsibility as their capabilities grow

5. Providing appropriate recognition and rewards when they achieve company goals

6. Using any other helpful theories of human relations that will keep them motivated toward excellence

Related Content: Scientific Theory, Administrative Theory, Bureaucratic Theory, and Human Relations Theory Decoded in one simple Infographic



Learn all you can about human relations in business as it relates to human resource theory

Various types of courses are available in the different areas of employee management theory. Some are offered online and some at numerous seminar locations, some may be brought to your site and still others are combinations of the above methods which are known as blended learning.

Acquire the HR tools and resources necessary to develop, empower and reward employees

When it comes to human resources, theory isn't enough. And though your positive attitude and supportive management style will be important, you'll also benefit from a few tools and other resources that have been designed to make your job easier.

Seek guidance as you incorporate human relations management theory into your company's program

The personal touch of a consultant, coach, or trainer can go a long way toward helping you put the human relations theory of management to work at your business.

  • As you implement your new HR management theory and begin testing the tools and resources you've chosen to make your job easier, always remember that your key human relations asset is you. Whatever other support methods you use, ultimately it will be your own supportive interaction with your employees that will make the greatest difference.

Want more information on popular managment theories? Be sure to visit our hub for management theories and their application to your business.

Image Credit: Jacob Lund/Shutterstock
Jeanne Dininni