A PRESENTATION OF ROBERT R. BLAKE AND
JANE S. MOUTON’S MANAGERIAL GRID
PERSPECTIVES ON MANAGEMENT
DR. DENNIS P. MCILNAY
JOSEPH MANGARELLA JR.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
At the end of World War II, management theorists began to embrace a serious paradigm shift away from the more traditional autocratic approaches to management. Throughout the 1950’s, studies were created and conducted to explore the development of leadership styles that measured business management’s approach to the individuals working for them in relation to the performance results of the business manager. The results of many of these studies came to fruition in the 1960’s, and in 1964 Robert Blake and Jane Mouton published their landmark book on this topic, The Managerial Grid (this original work was expanded by the authors in 1978 into a new publication, The New Managerial Grid, which is used as the primary source for this document).
This paper begins by providing the context of the period of maturity for Blake and Mouton’s theories. Initially, the authors’ emergence from the National Training Laboratory’s “T-groups” is presented. Background information is supplied concerning the work of noted theorists Abraham Maslow and Douglas McGregor and how their beliefs influenced the development of the Managerial Grid. Blake and Mouton’s theory of commonalities of organizations is introduced, and a general overview of “the Grid” is presented. Each of the five primary regions of the Grid is explained in detail, and the document closes with a summary and opinion of the Managerial Grid.
The first National
Training Laboratory (NTL) for Group Development was created in 1947. NTL
workshops were described as a place to learn change-agent concepts and to help
with group growth and development. In time these workshops became known as
“T-groups,” which incorporated many of the elements of sensitivity training for
the purposes of management development
(Highhouse, 2002, http://www.psicopolis.com/Kurt/groupdynamics.htm).
Douglas McGregor, known
for his Theory X and Theory Y approach to management, was one of the early
practitioners of T-groups in industry and a long-time advisor to NTL. McGregor
was also on the board of Standard Oil of New Jersey (now Exxon), which sent a
number of executives to NTL during the early 1950’s. As corporate demand for
T-groups increased steadily throughout the 1950’s and early 1960’s, trainers
began taking advantage of lucrative opportunities to consult outside the NTL.
One of the first NTL defectors was Robert Blake of the University of Texas at
Austin. In 1958, Blake, along with his colleague Jane Mouton, was recruited by
the Bayway Refinery of Esso (then Exxon's East Coast operation) to conduct
T-groups on a massive scale. Blake and Mouton developed their own variation of
T-groups called "instrumented groups"
(Highhouse, 2002, http://www.psicopolis.com/Kurt/groupdynamics.htm).
relied heavily on responses to paper-and-pencil questionnaires as a way to
provoke discussion among group members. This process eventually evolved into
the foundation for Blake and Mouton’s “Managerial Grid”
(Highhouse, 2002, http://www.psicopolis.com/Kurt/groupdynamics.htm).
First published in 1964 The Managerial Grid can be viewed as the next logical step of the evolution of prevailing management theory. Its roots can be traced to Abraham Maslow’s classic 1943 work, A Theory of Human Motivation. In it, Maslow suggested that there are five sets of hierarchical needs that humans must have satisfied to be motivated: 1) physiological, 2) safety, 3) love, 4) esteem, and 5) self-actualization or self-fulfillment, the highest motivational need in Maslow’s hierarchy of motivation
(Maslow, 1943, pp. 50, 370-396).
In 1960 Douglas McGregor utilized Maslow’s needs framework as a basis for his arguments against traditional Theory X-type leadership in his influential book, The Human Side of Enterprise (McGregor, 1960, pp. 36-42). McGregor further advanced Maslow’s conclusions by “use(ing) much of Maslow’s research on the hierarchy of motivation to develop his assumptions of the Theory Y manager” (Maslow, 1998, p. 15). Concisely put, Theory Y is a collection of management assumptions characterized by participative leadership and a collaborative and trustful work environment. Both management and subordinates find value with this arrangement.
the early 1960’s, Maslow had become an advocate of the maturing T-groups and in
1962 he commented on McGregor’s theories.
Maslow cautiously wrote that although he believed more research was
necessary, “practically all of (the research) come out on the side… of Theory
Y; practically none of them come out in favor of Theory X”
(Maslow, 1998, p. 73).
McGregor’s noteworthy theories, however, only offered a partial model of the entire management sphere. Robert Blake himself explained the origins of the Managerial Grid:
“The desperate need was for a comprehensive formulation of leadership styles. Douglas McGregor had a bipolar design that ran between X and Y. This was an inadequate formulation of all of the variations ... It didn't satisfy our concept” (Flower, 1992, http://www.well.com/user/bbear/blake.html).
Although Theory X assumptions are manifested within the Grid in the form of the 9,1 region, Blake and Mouton significantly enlarged McGregor’s Theory Y assumptions with the construction of the Managerial Grid.
Editorial Note - For the purposes of simplicity and in observance of Blake and Mouton’s original writing style, from this point forward the text has been written using the pronoun “he” or a derivation of this word when referring to specific individuals. The feminine version(s) of this word could be applicable in any of these instances.
Blake and Mouton present the Managerial Grid as a tool to help managers learn and identify the assumptions they make as they attempt to work with and through others (Blake and Mouton, 1978, p. 6). The authors’ premise is that every manager operates under a learned and established set of assumptions, and those beliefs must first be identified if they are to be changed to effectively align with correct principles of human motivation. Thus, “the Grid” is offered as a model of scientifically verified principles to be learned for effective managerial behavior.
Just as assumptions are ever-present in individuals and managers, organizations also tend to have certain universal characteristics. These three “universals” (Blake and Mouton, 1978, p. 7) are defined as 1) purpose, 2) people, and 3) power: “The process of achieving organization purpose through the efforts of several people results in responsibility (power) for planning, controlling, and directing the activities of others through a hierarchical arrangement” (Blake and Mouton, 1978, p. 8). The authors maintain that the Grid represents graphically the way these three attributes intertwine.
Blake and Mouton’s dual concerns theory known as the Managerial Grid fundamentally asserts that managers have two central motivations:
2. The desire to use the organizational hierarchy best in an effort to maximize production with and through interpersonal relationships.
The Grid is a two-dimensional model. The X-axis represents the manager’s concern for production (getting the work done) on a scale from one to nine, with nine being the highest state of concern. Likewise, the Y-axis represents concern for people and relationships in the same manner. By mapping these two primary concerns upon the Grid, five discrete styles of management behavior result:
Each style is defined by two numbers separated with a comma, with the first number indicating the production concerns of the supervisor, and the second number representing that particular manager’s concern for people. “Each theory can be seen as a set of assumptions for using power to link people into production” (Blake and Mouton, 1978, p. 12). E.g. a manager may feel both relationships and production are equally high in importance. In this case, the style of Team Management (9,9), in which preferred solutions generated are win-win, would be most utilized. Another supervisor who is preoccupied with meeting production goals and is willing to sacrifice relationships to reach these goals would fall under the Authority-Obedience (9,1) approach to managing. For a manager who avoids conflict of any kind, neither meeting production goals nor retaining relationships may be important enough to risk any sort of confrontation; the style of Impoverished Management (1,1) would be a likely choice. Once these basic styles are understood, predictions can be made for each how an individual operating under that style is likely to handle conflict and resolution.
The authors conclude that several additional situational factors can influence the dominant managerial style, including organizational culture, the situation itself, the personality and values of the supervisor, and limited general knowledge of other management styles. Managers also possess primary and secondary styles as the situation permits - over 80 different management styles of grid combinations have been identified (McIlnay, October 27, 2004). In the end, Blake and Mouton’s theories have become a popular means of conceptualizing and simplifying a very complex issue, given that the Grid enables numeric assignments to each contrasting management style.
In the mid-1960’s many organizations were still clinging to the traditional Authority-Obedience style of management, what Blake and Mouton refer to as 9,1. Previously defined by McGregor as Theory X and later referred to by Stephen Covey as “The Win/Lose Paradigm of Human Interaction” (Covey, 1989, p. 207), a 9,1 management style is characterized by a concern for production as the only goal. Employees are viewed as obstacles to performance results unless obedience to the manager’s wishes is explicitly granted. Management philosophy is such that people must do what is demanded of them, no questions asked. A 9,1 supervisor will stick to a position no matter if it is right or wrong - seldom is the boss in doubt with regards to his or her ideas. Failure is not an option for this type of manager; his modis operandi is to exercise power by imposing his will upon his followers. If he does happen to fail, the manager will usually blame his letdowns on others. Resistance to the wishes of the supervisor is met with intimidation, anger, and biting sarcasm. Short-term results may be positive, but longer-term outcomes generally result in lower overall production.
In a 9,1 environment, attributes of the boss can include total self-sufficiency, a complete lack of acceptance for alternative viewpoints, and continuous micromanagement. “The relationship of a boss to a subordinate is along (the) lines of authority and obedience… Power of hierarchy is not to be questioned” (Blake and Mouton, 1978, p. 17). Information flow is typically one-sided, streaming from the top layers of the executive hierarchy to the bottom levels. This circumstance is due mainly to the fact that the more-educated upper ranks of the organization are aware that information represents power, and in this system subordinates are denied access to any form of power whatsoever.
The 9,1 manager subscribes to McGregor’s three basic Theory X assumptions:
Because these specific management attitudes are prevalent in this setting, it is inherently logical that the 9,1 authority figure will be compelled to act in a manner consistent with the characteristics listed above.
Management by quotas is another hallmark of this philosophy. Ever increasing production quotas and shorter deadlines are set as organizational goals. The authors maintain that these are
“Acceptable ways … to pressure for organization efficiency and gain personal satisfaction from controlling the efforts of others at the same time. When results are not achieved, then coercive means, involving various forms of punishment, can be applied to those not measuring up” (Blake and Mouton, 1978, p. 19).
In this case, the boss’ role is to make the employee aware of his failings and to let him know how to correct these weaknesses in the future. The impetus is then placed directly on the shoulders of the employee to “get his act together,” so to speak.
The authors continue their depiction of the 9,1 manager as a judgmental player who uses intimidation, offensive questioning, taunts, false projections of power and authority, and various other underhanded methods in an effort to succeed with his “win-lose” approach to organizational effectiveness. The potential overall health ramifications of the 9,1 type of lifestyle include a tendency towards stress-related illnesses (such as heart attacks and migraine headaches), and being a workaholic who is driven by a desire to never lose.
A 9,1 work environment obviously is not a pleasant setting for subordinates. Typical reactions include simple compliance with the manager’s wishes, with the trade-off being that production is usually compromised. Alternatively, some workers may withdraw entirely into “neutrality and indifference… They do the minimum work required to retain their jobs and income, no more, no less” (Blake and Mouton, 1978, p. 25). In essence, the 9.1 practice of embracing Theory X attitudes becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.
The subordinate activity known as soldiering (feigning to work and/or sabotaging production), described by Fredrick Winslow Taylor in The Principles of Scientific Management (Boone, Bowen, 1987, p. 35), is another frequent outcome of this work environment. Employees in the 9,1 system often feel a continuous sense of powerlessness. This condition typically leads to high turnover rates that add unnecessary expenses to the firm’s bottom line. The authors also contend that the growing power of unions during the 1960’s could be attributed to subordinate efforts to change a situation where executive management ignored employee concerns. “Given effective leadership, they can achieve through numbers what they are unable to accomplish individually”
(Blake and Mouton, 1978, p. 27).
Throughout The New Managerial Grid Blake and Mouton place emphasis on the childhood environmental conditions that may have played a role in the development of a manager’s particular grid style. In the case of a 9,1 management disposition these factors are as follows:
¨ A 9,1 Family Tendency - Parents emphasize performance and achievements over all else. Anything other than hard work is perceived as shallow and impractical. Obedience to parents is expected and thus goes unrewarded. The child’s normal expansion of self-worth is impaired; later in life he tends to treat others as he was treated as a child.
¨ Paternalism - The child is repeatedly told that others have it better than he does, fostering an attitude to win at all costs in order to overcome his deprived state.
¨ Incomplete Pampering - This condition, where the parents consistently give in to the child’s demands, can create a domineering person who finds it effortless to ignore the concerns of others.
¨ Deprivation - The child becomes motivated to relentlessly strive to catch up and get ahead of others in order to compensate for what he may not have had at an earlier time in his life. Costs to self or others are largely ignored
(Blake and Mouton, 1978, p. 35).
Anger is a universal trait in supervisors with a 9,1 mentality. When a child in his formative years does not learn how to cooperate with others or learn how to treat other people with respect, frustration sets in quickly - this characteristic can persist into adulthood. This is indeed a poor quality for managers to have if they hope to become problem solvers with and through other people.
The broader implications for 9,1 organizations over the long term include unionization and lowered productivity (as discussed earlier), and the gradual shift of the workforce over time to a feeling of alienation and boredom relating to the general work environment (Blake and Mouton, 1978, p. 39).
The polar opposite of the Authority-Obedience Grid region is the 1,9 style known as Country Club Management. In this environment, the manager is portrayed as the ultimate “people pleaser,” with concern for others’ happiness being the primary motivator. If production goals get in the way of keeping his people satisfied, this manager will do whatever is required to make his employees comfortable first and worry about production later.
Characterized by fear of rejection and conflict avoidance, 1.9 managers are somewhat of an enigma - they do not typically get sentimentally involved with people. The reason for this is so the manager can pursue his own personal objectives without being bogged down with emotional attachments. This supervisor suffers from a grossly unhealthy need for affection:
“The 1,9-oriented person wants affection and approval from everyone, without regard to whom and whether he feels genuine warmth for them or not… The word ‘deferential’ catches a significant aspect of the basic attitude”
(Blake and Mouton, 1978, p. 41).
The 1,9 boss mainly uses reward power to preserve discipline and to support his subordinates in accomplishing their goals. Conversely, this manager is virtually incapable of employing the more disciplinary coercive and legitimate powers. This inability results from his fear that using such powers could jeopardize his relationships. Thus, the supervisor seldom attempts to impose his will onto other people, preferring to accept the ideas of others instead of forcing his own. Employees in this type of work environment go about their day working at their own pace on projects that they enjoy and with co-workers that they are attracted to. Comfort comes first; the unwritten code states that production is optional.
Togetherness and meetings are key concepts embraced by this manager, yet substantive discussion at these meetings is largely avoided in an effort to minimize disagreements and to preserve accord. Workers are generally self-directed, and the end result of management’s detachment to production values is a fundamentally uninvolved workforce. As the manager shows little concern for production, subordinates tend to approach product concerns in the same manner.
Fundamental to the 1,9 leader is the abhorrence of interpersonal conflict because it disrupts harmony and threatens approval. Therefore, he has developed an elaborate portfolio of strategies to deal with conflict resolution before it can get out of control. Blake and Mouton devote a significant portion of the 1,9 writings to these various coping methods (Blake and Mouton, 1978, pp. 44-48):
¨ Creating a Climate of Pleasantness - The polite, kind, and cheerful nature of the supervisor towards virtually everyone is designed to create an atmosphere where the possible revelation of strife between subordinates will be minimized. Because differences are not evident, the manager does not have to deal with them.
¨ Letting Others Go First - If the manager is able to persuade others to come up with solutions to problems before he does, then the manager will not run the risk of criticism for his own ideas. When a decision has to be made, the manager will generally propose an item that he believes will be accepted quickly.
¨ Holding Your Tongue When You Disagree - The 1,9 boss will not advocate a position that may be challenged; he will attempt to quietly shut down any issues that may cause stress or disagreement.
¨ Indirect Expressions of Position - The manager may express himself so that he is not taking a direct position towards a particular point of view, e.g. asking leading questions to provoke agreement and further discussion.
¨ Explaining Away Negatives - When hostility must be dealt with, the ill will is always attributed to something other than the work environment. In the mind of the manager, the workplace is never the source of the problem.
¨ Apologies and Promises - When results don’t turn out as planned the 1,9 manager will make assurances that the offending behavior will not be repeated. He may also ask for additional work assignments in an effort to regain lost acceptance.
¨ Smothering Differences - By highlighting the positive and avoiding the negative.
¨ Stifling Creativity – Creativity is seen as the potential conflict of ideas. The supervisor in this environment stifles creativity if at all possible.
¨ Dampening Pressures - When pressure comes from above to increase demands on subordinates, the manager will offer promises, favors, and rewards to workers in an effort to coax them to comply with the executive orders. If a problem arises that must be passed down, the boss often distributes it in small doses so as to minimize the effect that it may have on group harmony.
¨ Forgetting - 1,9 managers can be seen as unreliable because in an effort to court favor they will never turn away a request. Oftentimes, they do not follow through.
¨ Shading the Truth - In an effort to avoid controversy, the supervisor can attempt to smooth over bad news whenever he is required to report it. The effect of the bad news may be minimized, or at times all of the facts are not given.
As seen above, the 1,9 manager is disposed to many different calculating personalities as the situation warrants. These traits can be manifested in the forms of:
¨ Lavish giver of praise in an effort to exercise future control
¨ One who withholds criticism whenever it could be justified (leading the employee into a false sense of security while simultaneously satisfying the manager’s need for approval)
¨ One who creates false friendships in order to get what they want
¨ That of a “yes man” as a means to cultivate promotions and other future rewards
The 1,9 personality lends itself to masochism, hypochondria, inflammatory bowel disease, and hypertension (Blake and Mouton, 1978, pp. 49-52). Childhood origins of 1,9 personalities are generally brought about by paternalistic parents who punish their children primarily by withholding affection. The parents exercise strong direction and control over the child by telling him how to respond in almost every situation. Thus, the child becomes dependent upon their parents and other authority figures. As he matures he becomes uncomfortable dealing with his peers (who are neither adults nor authority figures) and with new situations in general. A lack of dependence is a hallmark of this type of personality, and the individual grows to become reliant on whatever source generates approval. Additionally, there are times when children who are rejected by 9,1 type parents become 1,9 approval seekers. “Starved for love, (they) seem to have an insatiable desire for affection. Any sign of rejection causes hurt and pain” (Blake and Mouton, 1978, p. 54).
The implications for employees working for a 1,9-type manager can take one of two forms. Those employees who value relationships created at the workplace and who are interested in a secure and non-taxing work environment feel comfortable. Workers who are driven by challenging work, employees who like to exercise creativity within a team framework, and people who want to make an impact on their workplace will find that working for a 1,9 supervisor will not satisfy their ambitions. These people would be most likely to leave the organization.
Work environments that cater to the 1,9 mentality are scarce. The authors note two scenarios; the first being a firm in a high growth or demand industry where profits are so high that efficiency is not a major concern. The second situation would involve a quasi-monopolistic organization where efficiency controls would do nothing more than sabotage good human relationships (Blake and Mouton, 1978, p. 56).
The Impoverished Management style is characterized by lack of contribution and commitment combined with a primary motivation to “stay in the system” (Blake and Mouton, 1978, p. 58). The manager does the bare minimum that is required of him so that he may hold onto his job. The boss feels no particular attachment to the work environment or to the people that surround him. Anytime direction from above is given to the supervisor the work is carried out with the minimum required effort, usually with the manager hoping that by completing the task he will remain inconspicuous.
This particular management style is comprised of the following characteristics:
¨ An absence of passion for the job or for the people with whom the manager works
¨ Noncommittal when faced with conflict
¨ Constant delegation (bordering on abdication) of responsibilities
¨ The manager is considered bland and humorless
¨ He expects little from his co-workers and he gives even less
¨ The manager often seems preoccupied in the hopes that others will avoid him
The 1,1 supervisor’s goal is to maintain executive membership and continuity for one’s own individual compensation. By giving the organization his minimal amount of effort the manager (at the least) maintains the form of acceptable behavior within the firm. They preserve the physical and functional appearances that put their behavior into agreement with that of many others with whom they associate. Position, status, and pay come from within the organization with minimum effort given in exchange (Blake and Mouton, 1978, pp. 59-60).
Production as a whole under this manager’s watch will be just enough to get by. When questioned as how to best increase productivity, the 1,1 supervisor generally petitions for more manpower or equipment (Blake and Mouton, 1978, p. 74). Furthermore, by not becoming emotionally involved with either the job or the people, the manager avoids dealing with his own personal inadequacies. Oftentimes, this lack of concern is initiated by some event in which the manager feels he has not been treated fairly. The manager then quietly blames the system for his own lack of initiative and he begins to withdraw from the work environment. “These rationalizations serve the purpose of justifying indifference (and) passivity… and make it unnecessary for him to admit to himself that he is not involved” (Blake and Mouton, 1978, p. 59).
Other circumstances where the 1,1 approach can emerge include whenever a person makes his mark on the company under the direct supervision of others and then gets promoted to a management position. When that person’s own judgment becomes the criteria for how the division will be evaluated, the new manager can become paralyzed and wary of the risk of being exposed. He may then retreat into a 1,1 style of behavior. Another example is typified by the 9,1 supervisor who realizes in mid-career that he is “losing the fight.” Things no longer seem as important as they did earlier in their careers. Withdrawal is a way for these managers to avoid admitting defeat. Additionally, 1,1-type behavior can also exist whenever a person can neither fight back against a 9,1 boss nor afford to leave their job (Blake and Mouton, 1978, pp. 60-62).
Relating to conflicts, the 1,1 manager attempts to steer clear of situations that would require his involvement. He is visible around the company, yet few people know what he stands for - seldom does this supervisor offer sturdy opinions or say anything of a substantive nature. Blake and Mouton state, “If in charge, he ponders, delegating if in trouble… (He) tries to talk his way out of the situation if uninformed” (1978, p. 64). A 1,1 supervisor acts as a mere conduit, passing messages from above and below but making sure not to alter the content of the message so as not to put his stamp on it. He maintains the appearance of being involved with the organization, but he is not known for his dependability to company objectives; on-the-job procrastination is prevalent.
Subordinates generally act in one of four ways:
In this system the manager manipulates his employees into doing more and more work simply by ignoring them. The boss displays his “I Don’t Care” attitude prominently. Taken to the extreme, this management style has been associated with premature death and cancer.
Childhood origins include a family structure where close supervision, criticism, reprimands, punishment, and argumentative parents are the norm. The child, left with little room for the development of initiative, withdraws into a world of isolation; in effect his will becomes broken. Another case for 1,1 childhood development can be made for passive parenting techniques that show the child little reaction whatsoever. The child isolates and is left immobilized “to learn the skills that develop from participation” (Blake and Mouton, 1978, p. 72). In yet another example overly indulgent parents who build up the child in every conceivable way can cause a leaning towards a 1,1 orientation. As the child gets older, he may find that his abilities do not match the “perfect” view he has of himself. As a consequence, withdrawal ensues (Blake and Mouton, 1978, pp. 71-73).
1,1 organizations (though uncommon) can develop when bureaucracy is the rule, the organization has outlived its worth, and where there is a good deal of surplus in the budget relating to human resources. Monotonous and unchallenging work can help to bring about this distinction as well. Although totally 1,1 based organizations are rare, there are many work environments with 1,1 segments that perform for extended time periods.
“It is many times a situation of personal defeat leading to self-abdication that an individual comes into (1,1) instead of beginning with. Its presence is really an indication of failure of the individual manager and for the organization as well. It is failure in that he has accepted defeat… It is failure for the organization in that individual productive efforts are not integrated with sound human relationships” (Blake and Mouton, 1978, p. 71).
5,5 Organization Man Management is a kind of realistic medium without ambition. The supervisor views it as the most practical management technique. It is also an outcome when production and people issues are seen as in conflict. The defining characteristic of this style “is not to seek the best position for both production and people… but to find the position that is in between both, about halfway” (Blake and Mouton, 1978, p. 77).
This manager expends initiative in an enthusiastic quest for popularity and a positive standing in the organization. In an effort to bolster approval in the workplace, his convictions tend to be superficial; compromise and siding with the majority are the norm. He searches for workable solutions to production that will please the majority and not offend the minority. Risk taking and creativity are not valued, but rather the “safety in numbers” approach is the path most taken. The 5,5 supervisor is a follower not a leader, often substituting past successful practices for creativity and innovation. Strategic tactics for achieving organizational objectives are not mapped out in any coherent way, but rather they are implemented by trial and error. The result is an incoherent, gradual, and “responsive” leadership style (Blake and Mouton, 1978, p. 76), usually taken by first observing what other managers are doing in their own departments.
When dealing with subordinates, the 5,5 manager prefers relaxed and shared conversations – these allow him to stay popular. Group membership is also enjoyed as committees allow the supervisor to spread the responsibility for decision-making. “He is likely to see his leadership role as that of a catalyst or facilitator, one whose procedural skills help subordinates reach a majority point of view” (Blake and Mouton, 1978, p. 77).
Production goals are skewed to match the efforts of his subordinates. If a target is deemed to be unreachable, the objective is simply expanded so as to make the worker more comfortable. This situation occurs infrequently, however, as the 5,5 manager makes every effort to ensure that the original goals and targets will match up with his subordinates abilities. Achieving these goals thus becomes a matter of routine.
The authors significantly describe the 5,5 boss’ attitude of “persuasive logic” toward conflict (Blake and Mouton, 1978, pp. 78-84). The methods are listed here:
¨ How Has It Been Done in the Past? – The manager commonly refers to the past when making decisions. In this way he avoids conflict related to self-reliant beliefs.
¨ Corporate Protocol – Diplomacy is used within the established rules of the organization. Independent thinking is replaced by a reliance on protocol.
¨ Radar Scoping – The supervisor employs methods of tact as he looks to other decision makers for leadership. This is done while simultaneously avoiding the appearance of doubt. Innovation is not a trait of the 5,5 manager.
¨ Using the Informal System – The “grapevine” is used as a tool to evaluate potentially unpopular decisions before they are implemented (referred to as putting out “trial balloons”). In 5,5 management the manager’s finger is kept squarely on the pulse of the firm by monitoring the informal communication system. In this way he can stay in favor, answer to misguided actions, and relieve pressures before they occur.
¨ Implicit Majority Rule – The boss goes along with the majority whether the facts support this decision or not, again avoiding any unnecessary displays of personal conviction.
¨ Tentativeness – The 5,5 manager remains tentative so that he can stay flexible for when the popular course of action presents itself. An unintended consequence of this tactic is that his true lack of character may be revealed.
¨ Compromise – This supervisor is skilled at the art of compromise not because it is the best solution, but because it will keep everybody happy. Oftentimes, the underlying principles of the issue will be ignored in an effort to appease all sides.
¨ “Tailoring Information” – If he finds himself in a position where he is wrong, the manager may bend the truth rather than to admit his mistake. This is done in an effort to remain popular, but over time this can lead to a pattern of reversals and contradictions. The authors assert that 5,5 managers usually do not realize their misrepresentations of others whenever they practice this behavior.
¨ Expediency – Expediency related to conflict is another hallmark of this system; it is practiced at the expense of sounder actions that may take longer to devise.
¨ Separating Those in Disagreement – This practice involves the physical separation of two employees who disagree. This method makes no effort to solve the more basic issues at the root of the conflict.
5,5 management requires several different acting methods. These tactics are generally used
“To hide his steadfastness of pursuing his own individual purposes from others. His intention is to win the war. Losing a battle or two along the way is of no consequence” (Blake and Mouton, 1978, p. 89).
The first is the attempt to be perceived as a manager who is flexible and willing to compromise. These are not necessarily bad qualities to have, but in the case of the 5,5 manager they are present only so that he can achieve his personal aims. Additionally, the supervisor manipulates both individuals and cliques so that he can shape organizational policy with minimal effort while continuing to pursue his private goals. This is done by acting as a friend after working hours, by influencing key members of informal office circles, and by strategically giving advice when it is required - only if the personal benefits outweigh the costs. The long-term health implications of this style of management are marginal; the authors note that ulcers due to feelings of anxiousness are prevalent here (Blake and Mouton, 1978, p. 87).
Subordinates have been known to be influenced into acting the same as their 5,5 supervisors act. The worker hopes to emulate his manager’s lifestyle and develops an outlook of “that’s just the way it is here.” He trades risk-taking for long-term security by not rebelling against the organizational system. Managers have also been known to become a “Statistical” 5,5 (Blake and Mouton, 1978, p. 85), where the boss’ style can be anywhere on the Grid depending on the particular employee he is dealing with at the time. In the end the manager averages into a 5,5 style. His employees see him as being flexible - they are never forced to change and the status quo remains the same.
The childhood origins of 5,5 supervisors appear to stem from socially centered parenting. The child is brought up to gain satisfaction from belonging and from being popular. Relationships with these types of parents tend to be shallow and as he gets older the child’s peers are the ones who lead him into adulthood. Thus, the young person matures and looks for status amongst those that he works with (Blake and Mouton, 1978, pp. 87-88).
Blake and Mouton argue that in the 1970’s a 5,5 orientation was the dominant management model an organization was likely to have. At the time this was most likely due to a middle ground being staked between a 9,1 position (prevalent in the first half of the 20th century), and then the later shift towards a 1,9 philosophy (which was eventually determined to be non-productive).
“Many large organizations… have been unable to gear their membership to any greater accomplishment or commitment than that represented by 5,5. This style of management is here to stay and for a long time to come… It is able, over long periods, to endure as a way of life in large, massive organizations… The challenge confronting modern management is to set higher goals than 5,5 as the basis for future accomplishment” (Blake and Mouton, 1978, p. 93).
The 9,9 Team Management leader is a team-oriented person who seeks consensus and looks for a connection between high production and optimal relationships among subordinates and colleagues. This was a fresh and different perspective to management philosophy whenever Blake and Mouton devised their original model in 1964. Perhaps due to the preponderance of the 5,5 style at the time, the discussion of the idealistic 9,9 approach in The New Managerial Grid is mainly instructional in nature.
In a 9,9 system the manager strives for sound and imaginative opinions, letting others partake in the decision making process. He is not afraid to use ideas that are divergent from his own, but rather focuses on the value of the ideas. Emotions and thoughts are used to solve problems through teamwork because this supervisor is concerned with arriving only at the best possible solutions. “A 9,9-oriented manager is capable of acting sensibly to bring about effective results, maintaining consistency but finding innovative solutions to fit unique problems and unusual circumstances” (Blake and Mouton, 1978, p. 119). Another of the manager’s primary goals in this system is to identify barriers that his subordinates may be encountering and then finding a way to remove them.
A 9,9 supervisor takes the time to construct clear and specific objectives with his people that are in line with the purpose of the organization. They can then all come to an agreement regarding how best to achieve these goals. In this way, the workers are aligned with the purpose of the firm as they perform and observe the outcomes of their work. Sensitive information should be shared with staff during this process (which was probably a novel thought when first published):
“Genuine understanding of organization economic health, work goals, unity of effort, and commitment arise out of discussion, deliberation, and debate around major organization issues and by the mutual identification of sound objectives” (Blake and Mouton, 1978, p. 98).
Another characteristic of the 9,9 manager is the gathering of all relevant data and perspectives for the purpose of making sound decisions. Alternative solutions are analyzed and discussed, and a specific course of action is chosen. Throughout this process, the boss relies on collaboration and teamwork with his subordinates. Teamwork is also essential so that the people who are responsible for carrying out the decisions are involved and committed to the final choice. They have a thorough understanding of what went into the formulation of the conclusions due to their active participation in the decision-making process. Because of this, employees are more eager to accept a particular course of action, and they understand more fully how the decision will advance the purposes of the organization. The authors maintain that in this system, goals are neither lowered nor compromised whenever they are not met, but rather the “gap between achievement and excellence must be clearly understood” (Blake and Mouton, 1978, p. 99).
Objectives are to be thoroughly outlined by the manager, but the employee responsible should formulate the specific steps (provided they take an appropriate amount of time), while simultaneously allowing for flexibility. In this case, the amount of time chosen to obtain the goal plays a significant role. If the time period is too far in the future immediate activities will lose both their relevance and motivational properties. Conversely, if the time allowed to complete the goal is too short, the motivation will be again lost because it is either too simple a goal to obtain (lack of challenge) or too unrealistic to achieve in the limited time allotted (Blake and Mouton, 1978, p. 99).
The goals that are set must have motivating value in order to be most effective in influencing employee behavior.
“Standards are needed for deciding ‘how good is good?’ and… the best standard is Excellence, (which is) the best that rigorous thinking and analysis can visualize… The difference is quality, which in itself is a source of motivation” (Blake and Mouton, 1978, p. 100).
Regular performance feedback relative to stated objectives is another tool that can sway employee motivation in a positive way.
Conflict should be expected and managed properly. The authors offer several ways to effectively approach this subject (Blake and Mouton, 1978, pp. 102-105):
¨ Open Communication – An atmosphere of free two-way exchanges is crucial. Managers must open the door to both positive and negative messages. Communication of this type is characterized by spontaneity, trust, and openness.
¨ Giving Rationale – The supervisor explains both the rationale and the particulars behind requests. When subordinates are trained to study and evaluate and can see cause-and-effect relations, they will generally support assignments.
¨ Seeking Facts, Data, and Logic – Because the manager’s intention is to arrive at the best solution, he can remain open to alternative points of view when analyzing differences.
¨ Experimentation – The 9,9 manager is likely to be seen as an innovator regarding conflict resolution.
¨ Critique – Critique is defined as the involvement of two or more people to identify problems and to discuss solutions. This process can identify weaknesses and areas that need to be improved; these items can then be dealt with in an intelligent manner.
¨ Confrontation – The 9,9 manager deals with conflict in a probing and insightful way. He gets the adversaries together and asks logical questions to allow them to confront their differences. The goal is to get the subordinates to develop different perspectives.
Because the 9,9 supervisor is characterized by integrity, trustworthiness, concern for others, and as being committed to furthering the goals of the organization, subordinates generally react favorably. A positive work environment extends to a “can-do” esprit de corps, which leads to the successful achievement of “Excellence” when pursuing goals. Increased involvement leads to a sense of camaraderie, as employees have an emotional stake in seeing the organization succeed. In contrast, when the 9,9 system is first introduced to an established organization rooted in one of the other management styles, typical reactions can include employees feeling as though too much is being asked of them, or that the system may be unrealistic and impractical. Therefore, the authors outline a brief overview of “the requirements for bringing change about” (Blake and Mouton, 1978, pp. 106-108).
1. Grid theories are taught to managers to provide a framework of differing management styles.
2. Through the use of questionnaires, supervisors identify what they think good management would consist of (9,9 values are regularly a popular choice).
3. Managers are guided through additional exercises that help them to eliminate self-deception when analyzing their own management styles. Gaps are identified as to where on the Grid the supervisor currently resides and on what he would like to accomplish in order to become a more effective manager.
4. One’s own peers are solicited for active support in an effort to shift to a 9,9 style. Subordinates and teams are taught the various Grid styles and actively participate in the change process.
Blake and Mouton contend that better management in the form of a 9,9 management style can lead to a competitive advantage in an age where new sources of advantage are hard to realize. During the 1960’s and 1970’s the greater acceptance of the behavioral sciences signified a willingness by organizations to move toward the 9,9 region of the Grid, as did the desire to ward off the negative effects (such as unionization) of prior accepted styles of management. Higher technology in the workplace and a more educated workforce demanded a management technique that offered added challenges to entry-level employees. Results recorded by organizations that have implemented the 9,9 management style include the following:
1. A more profitable organization
2. Improved relations between management and unions and centers of operations and their subsidiaries
3. The expansion of team action in a variety of capacities
4. The reduction of interpersonal frictions between people who work closely together
5. Heightening personal dedication and increased effort and creativity
(Blake and Mouton, 1978, pp. 117-119)
Because at the time of publication the 9,9 standard was a more recent model that was proposed as a shift away from other inherent management styles, childhood tendencies of the 9,9 manager do not apply here. Although the authors do discuss effective parenting techniques to aid in the assistance of learned 9,9-type behaviors, these parenting methods based in the behavioral sciences are beyond the scope of this paper. Additionally, few health related issues had been identified for 9,9 managers at the time of the book’s publication.
This document established the setting of the 1950’s T-groups from where Blake and Mouton emerged with a two-dimensional behavioral approach to defining five basic styles of management known as the Managerial Grid. The 9,1 (Authority-Obedience) approach assumes that production efficiency results from arranging the conditions at work with minimum interference from other people. Domination, control, and stubbornness are all characteristics of this management style. The 9,1 supervisor must win at all costs; people are perceived mainly as an obstacle to getting the work done. Here, short-term productivity may be solid, but once the subordinate’s will is broken production generally declines.
The 1,9 (Country Club) manager places a premium on relationships at the expense of production. This boss’ primary motivation is to feel secure by having people be fond of him. Production is secondary to a comfortable organizational environment; this manager avoids conflict whenever possible. Positive leadership is rarely displayed when this style of management is prevalent.
The 1,1 (Impoverished Management) orientation describes an abdication of responsibility towards both people and production while continuing to remain within the system. The supervisor goes through the motions to keep his job as he hopes to go unnoticed. The manager maintains the lowest level of productivity acceptable when this approach is taken.
5,5 (Organizational Man) management was the most common style found at the time of Blake and Mouton’s publication. Characterized by a boss who wishes to remain popular and in good standing with the organization, the manager measures his own value by how others feel about him. This boss, so as to not upset the established order, keeps risks and innovation to a minimum. Excellence is not reached for; rather mediocrity is the rule.
The 9,9 (Team Management) approach is presented as the ideal. Here the manager emphasizes teamwork to create clear and attainable objectives. Communication and a positive work environment are emphasized. Employees are motivated through challenging and meaningful objectives to become stakeholders in their efforts for the common good. Implementation tactics are highlighted, and the positive results of this rising style of management are listed.
Blake and Mouton’s Managerial Grid was one of the most influential management models to appear in the 1960’s. Over time, however, the 9,9 ideal has been criticized as a “one size fits all” approach to a continuously dynamic work environment. One of the primary shortcomings of the Grid is that it does not allow for differences in particular types of workers e.g. engineers vs. factory workers. Furthermore, the Grid does not appear to offer specific guidance for the daily tests of changing leadership conditions. In the 1970s, Hersey and Blanchard observed that
"The evidence of research clearly indicates that there is no single all-purpose leadership style. Successful leaders are those who can adapt their behavior to meet demands of their unique situation” (Hersey, 1972).
Thus, the Grid formed the basis for Hersey and Blanchard’s model of Situational Leadership, and it also provided a foundation for even more complex contingency approaches to leadership. Notable amongst these studies are Fiedler’s Contingency model (which considers the match between the manager’s personality and the situation), and Tannenbaum and Schmidt’s Continuum of Leader Behavior (which stresses that the leader not only understand himself but also the other persons in the organization along with the social environment as well) (Rue, 2003, pp. 270-273).
Upon its introduction in 1964, the Managerial Grid was the next logical step in the evolution of management thinking. Robert Blake and Jane Mouton based the framework of the Grid on the sound logic of noted theorists Abraham Maslow and Douglas McGregor. The Grid expanded upon McGregor’s and others’ theories at the time to provide a richer and more complete design between the manager’s concerns for production versus their concern for interpersonal relationships. Although later criticized and subjected to further revision by its creators, the original Managerial Grid remains an important model of managerial behavior that continues to be studied and utilized to this day.
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