Likert`s Principle of Supportive Relationships

Likert`sPrinciple of Supportive Relationships

Modernorganizations still retain management aspects that were advocated bythe traditional management theorist modern organizations managementmethods vary significantly from those of traditional organizations.Human resource management is an indispensable department in anyorganization this department has an important mandate in promoting amotivated, competent and united workforce that can enhance theorganization achieve its goals. Employees within the organizationhave needs and feelings that need to be recognized as they offertheir labor services (Huczynski &amp Buchanan 2007 211).

Inthe contemporary world, organizations exist in dynamic andcompetitive markets where human resources form an important cog inthe organization structure. Employees are involved directly in therunning of the organizations operations and management through theirskills. As such, effective human resource management is part ofachieving organization goals and must incorporate the feelings andthe needs of its staffs in order to realize those goals. Therefore,organizations need to enhance the spirit of supportive relationshipsas espoused by Abraham Maslow, Douglas McGregor and Likert theories.

SupportiveRelationships in Organizations

Dr.Likert envisioned the future of organization management as havingdifferent management and operational style to that of Max Webbersbureaucratic model. Likert is known for his extensive research onorganization psychology and in the development of the Likert scale.His driving motivation was to see a positive change in the runningand management of organization and especially in facilitatingsupportive relationships among organizations members. In his opinion,he observed that, efficiency in organizations depended on themanagement style adopted (Brewer, 1968 150). After deliberativeindustrial research, he outlined four management styles used inorganizations, these are consultative, participative, benevolent andexploitative management.

Inparticular, he developed a critical assessment of organizationparticipative management under the principle code named system 4.Under this principle, his main arguments were that organizationalheads need to promote supportive relationships within organizationsthrough constant use of participative group discussions as way ofstrengthening team work and overlapping group memberships with otherindividuals to promote active cooperation among the staffs (Huczynski&amp Buchanan 2007 111).

Inhis assessment of supportive relations in modern organizations, hissuggestions were that, in order to manage organization operations,managers need to embrace the principle of supportive relationships.Dr. Likert observed that, subordinates should be motivated withrewards and involved in decision making employees must be seen ashaving desires and needs that should be fulfilled by the organization(Brewer, 1968 123). In this type of organization management,organization leaders incorporate subordinates opinions and ideas in aconstructive way and enhance more information flow between themanagement and the subordinate staffs.

Effectiveorganization management promotes group systems in which employees arefully involved in decision making, the management have higherconfidence on the input of subordinates, and therefore, enhance asupportive platform where employees express their opinions (Hall,1972: 233).In addition, Likert argued that, organizations shouldpromote effective supportive relationship with the employees throughencouraging teamwork and group work among their staff members.Individuals are linked in teams that have common members and thateach employee feels a responsibility of achieving organizationalgoals through economic rewards given to motivate them (Hall, 1972:231).

Likertobserved that, in order to promote and motivate employees within theorganization in participating effectively in organization activities,the organizations managers must use modern techniques and principlesof motivation. In this case, the management realizes that employeestoo have individual needs, desires, values, self worth and feelingsthat need to be enhanced and maintained (Huczynski &amp Buchanan2007: 213). By motivating the workers and appreciating theircontribution in decision making and realization of organizationgoals, the organization will be able to create an efficient andclose-knit workforce that can achieve the organization goals. Assuch, supportive relationships should be established in each groupwithin the organization as part of enhancing harmony, mutual respectand achieving the organization objective (Hall, 1972: 243).

Therefore,participative and consultative methods are useful in the managementof human resource. Support and cooperation in organization activitiesare based on mutual and genuine participation in goal setting,decision making and characterized by warm interactions withcommunication flowing freely from the management to the staffs. Themanagement realizes that employees are creative and skilled personnelwhose information can be tapped and developed for the sustainabilityof organization (Hall, 1972:214). In addition, as part of promotingsupportive relationships, the managers should show interest andunderstand problems that employees go through in the lower cadres ofthe organization (Brewer, 1968: 135). All members of the teamunderstand their responsibilities, the organization goals and areready to account for their actions.

Organization,objectives, values, missions and ethics are acceptable by allemployees since they are fully involved in the organizationalstructure. In such supportive relationships, staffs are able toachieve their highest output as they became more productive based onthe ownership feeling bestowed to them by the organization. Theoverall goal of supportive relationships within an organization asLikert envisioned is to delineate the traditional form of humanresource management, with current system of management in whichemployees are valuable (Huczynski &amp Buchanan 2007: 215).


Organizationsexist to achieve corporate goals, promote social welfare anddevelopment. These aspects cannot be achieved without propermanagement leadership that is sensitive to needs, values and desiresof the employees. Organizations have much to gain through effectivehuman resource management practices that appreciate, motivate andenhance inclusiveness in decisions making of organization. Theseaspects form the basis of effective and supportive relationshipsadvocated by Dr. Likert.

Inhis contribution to the principle of supportive organizationrelationships, Likert suggested that, workers motivation need to beenhanced through modern principles and techniques, and not throughthe traditional threats and reward systems. In addition, in order toenhance excellent supportive relationships in organization,employees’ needs must be met and be incorporated in organizationdecision making. Lastly, supportive relationships withinorganizations must be based on mutual respect and not through actualsupport.


Brewer,J. D. (1968). Review of TheHuman Organization.AmericanSociological Review,33(5), 825-826

Hall,J. W. (1972). A Comparison of Halpin and Croft`s OrganizationalClimates and Likert and Liker`s Organizational Systems.AdministrativeScience Quarterly,17(4), 586-590.

Huczynski,A.A. and Buchanan, D.A. (2007). OrganizationalBehavior.6th Edition, Pearson Education.