1. What aspects of the Human Resources frame appeal to you most?

The aspect of the Human Resources frame which appeals to me most is the belief that people and organizations need each other. I agree with Bolman & Deal that organizations need the ideas, energy, and talent that people can offer by way of employment/partnership. Conversely, these same people need jobs that pay them for these contributions, accordingly. This aspect may not be crystal clear to those who don’t work in service-related sectors, but in my industry, human capital is the most vital asset, much more so than equipment. For example, we could have the most up-to-date equipment, but if we did not have the people to operate the equipment safely & efficiently, it would be rendered useless, with negligible return on assets.

2. How can you use this frame in the workplace to impact employees behavior/productivity, and promote greater organizational effectiveness?

As a small business owner, I’ve unknowingly been using parts of this framework with my employees. My company has employees ranging from 21-year-old entry-level laborers to superintendents who are 30-year industry veterans. Unsurprisingly, each of my employees values certain things more than others would because they are in different stages of their lives.

Recently, I gave my employees the option to choose the benefits they wanted, within a defined monetary range. While my more-tenured employees stuck with health insurance for themselves and their families, my more recent hires chose newer options like college tuition reimbursement and daycare reimbursement.

By offering the ability to choose their own benefit, my employees realize that I truly care about them as individuals.

3. Granovetter (Bolman, page 160) says “relationships often trump structure”.  Describe any experiences you have had (or have seen others have) with toggling between the Human Resources Frame and the Structural Frame.  What were the challenges?  How did people around you react?  

When I took over my company, it was strictly structural frame because it makes sense in the construction industry. I slowly began implementing some Human Resource frames because I was concerned with the relatively annual turnover at the entry levels. After speaking individually with each junior-level laborer last year, I realized that the reason why none of them stuck around the following year(s) is because they didn’t see any room for career advancement and development.

We currently utilize a hybrid structural and human resources frame. To keep field operations streamlined, there is a clear structural frame in place with a hierarchy chart. However, my senior employees are now required to teach my laborers how to complete the more advanced tasks, such as broom-finishing the concrete surface.

Just like in any other industry, there are some employees who are simply content with their current roles and responsibilities, and have zero desire to continue to learn and develop more skills. However, for those who are constantly seeking to improve themselves, this new policy has been instrumental. For the first time in years, both of the entry-level laborers from last year have committed to coming back to us in 2022.

4. Are you more of a Theory X or Theory Y or both type of manager?  Why? What are the upsides and downsides of each?

I am more of a Theory Y type of manager because I truly believe that not only are employees the backbone of a company, but also that happy and motivated employees drive organizational excellence. By working with each employee to understand what their respective goals are, I can (in most circumstances) tie their goals in some way to the success of our company. Whether it’s monetary incentives in the form of project success bonuses, or guaranteed pay raise upon completion of a career developmental certificate – most of these goals are able to incentivize my employees for making our company operate at an excellent level. The downside to Theory Y would be in the situation mentioned by Bolman & Deal – when “individuals find no satisfaction in their work” (p. 126). When this happens, it’s tough to be a Theory Y manager; however, I find that more often than not, monetary incentives are enough for these individuals.

Theory X has upsides such as tight controls and coercion which may be effective when dealing with individuals who find no satisfaction in their work whatsoever. However, the downside to this would be the inevitably high turnover rates.  


Bolman, L. G., & Deal, T. E. (2021). Reframing Organizations: Artistry, Choice, and Leadership (7th ed.). Jossey-Bass.

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