Lesson notes, exercises, downloads, and recommended reading are below the video. On mobile, the video will rescale when you play it.

Chris Argyris and the Immaturity-Maturity Model of Motivation: Treat People as Adults

Chris Argyris offers us a more sophisticated view of McGregor’s Theory X and Theory Y model of motivation. His conclusion is that we need to treat people as adults.

Argyris put forward his ‘Immaturity-Maturity Theory’. This suggested that if you treat people like children, you motivate the wrong behaviors.

Watching this video is worth 2 Management Courses CPD Points*.
(See below for more details)

This video is part of course module number 3.7.2
Program 3: Managing and Leading Individuals
Course 7: Motivation
Section 2: Process Models of Motivation

Primary videos that precede this video include:
Introduction to Motivation https://youtu.be/hbPGqPLv2s4
The Fundamentals of Motivation https://youtu.be/IVjnAZ-8-dY

Primary videos about Process Models of Motivation include:
– Elton Mayo and the Hawthorne Experiment https://youtu.be/jRMO43s5NGY
– Victor Vroom and Expectancy Theory https://youtu.be/WDgF7Avijlc
– John Stacy Adams and Equity Theory https://youtu.be/ksnCw96vg7M
– Douglas McGregor and Theory X & Theory Y https://youtu.be/fS5iqEf1Azs
– Rensis Likert and High Producing Managers https://youtu.be/MTgkCe_hhWs

Chris Argyris looked at the relationship and tension between people’s needs and the needs of their organization.

His theory is that personality evolves from Immaturity to Maturity, across a continuum. And this ‘Immaturity-Maturity Theory’ suggests that employee apathy arises where managers treat employees like children. And if they do so because of organizational constraints, there is a conflict (or tension) between people’s needs and those of the organization.

We can represent the Immaturity-Maturity continuum as a series of endpoints:

If organizational controls impose passivity, dependence, and subordination, it will favor immaturity. This will bring out either:
– More immaturity behaviors in less mature individuals
– Frustration and compensating behaviors in more mature individuals. They will create internal networks that work against the imposed hierarchy.

Therefore, what we need to do as managers and leaders is:
– Align organizational and individual goals
– Treat people as equals
– Allow them independence, autonomy, and agency
– Encourage the development of skills and knowledge

1. Think back across your whole career to date. How have each of your managers, bosses, and senior colleagues treated you (in terms of immaturity-maturity)? How did their treatment of you make you feel? What can you learn from your own experiences about how you can manage and lead your own team? (2 MC CPD Points)
2. If you have not done so, it would be helpful to take a look at our video Douglas McGregor and Theory X & Theory Y https://youtu.be/fS5iqEf1Azs
3. Take a long, hard, dispassionate, honest look at the way you treat each of the people in your team. To what extent do you treat each of them as a fully mature individual? And to what extent might you treat some of your team as less mature? (2 MC CPD Points)
4. Start to notice every interaction you have with a team member. If you catch yourself treating anyone as less than completely mature: stop. Change the way you are acting. (2 MC CPD Points)

Free Resources
– CPD Tools – https://gum.co/MC-CPD
Paid resources
– Management Courses Onboarding Kit – https://gum.co/MC-ObK ($3)

For a solid introduction to motivation:
– HBR Guide to Motivating People https://geni.us/sO2IKgn

The best of modern thinking on motivation, in accessible business books. These are all modern classics:
– Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us https://geni.us/uq3EBO
– Start With Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone To Take Action https://geni.us/vjErAN
– Lead, Motivate, Engage: How to INSPIRE Your Team to Win at Work https://geni.us/ABkZEx
– Multipliers, Revised and Updated: How the Best Leaders Make Everyone Smart https://geni.us/E39I
– Payoff: The Hidden Logic That Shapes Our Motivations https://geni.us/uMaP
– The Progress Principle: Using Small Wins to Ignite Joy, Engagement, and Creativity at Work https://geni.us/tiEkeH

Management Courses Continuing Professional Development (CPD) Points
You can record your Management Courses CPD points on our free, downloadable CPD record log.
Download it here: https://gum.co/MC-CPD

Each video has two levels of MC CPD points. For this video:
– If you simply watched the video, record 2 MC CPD points
– If you also carried out all of the recommended exercises, score a total of 8 MC CPD points

Links to our book recommendations are affiliated through Amazon


What Motivates People? The Top Motivation Models [Compilation]
Porter & Lawler: Expectancy Theory on Steroids
Edward Lawler: Vroom Enhanced with Two Types of Expectancy
William Ouchi: Theory Z Organizations and Motivation
The Psychology of Motivation: Understand the Basics
Basics of Motivation: Building Morale in your Team
Basics of Motivation: Incentives – do they work?
Hackman and Oldham: Job Characteristics Model of Motivation
Work Orientation Theory: John Goldthorpe and How Attitudes affect Motivation
Edwin Locke: Goal-Setting Theory of Motivation
Daniel Pink and Motivation 3.0 – Content Models of Motivation
Ryan & Deci: Self Determination Theory (SDT) – Content Models of Motivation
Rensis Likert and High Producing Managers – Process Models of Motivation
David McClelland and Three Motivational Needs – Content Theories of Motivation
Clayton Alderfer and ERG Theory – Content Models of Motivation
Frederick Herzberg and the Two-factor Theory – Content Models of Motivation
Abraham Maslow and the Hierarchy of Needs – Content Model of Motivation
Douglas McGregor and Theory X & Theory Y: Process of Model of Motivation
John Stacy Adams and Equity Theory: Process of Model of Motivation
Victor Vroom and Expectancy Theory: Process of Model of Motivation
Elton Mayo and the Hawthorne Experiment: Process of Model of Motivation
The Fundamentals of Motivation – Motives, Drives, and being Blocked
Introduction to Motivation: Key Questions Answered

Mike Clayton

About Mike Clayton 

Dr Mike Clayton is a (former) Project Manager and now a management educator. Having trained thousands of people at live workshops, seminars, and conferences, he now delivers training mainly via video. He has 14 books with international publishers and runs two successful YouTube channels. He is also the founder of OnlinePMCourses.com

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