Management by F.E.A.R.

April 15, 2012

You can discover what your enemy fears most by observing the means he uses to frighten you.” - Eric Hoffer

I have had my share of bosses that manage with fear. I’m sure you have to. The thing that irks me is how those individuals don’t see how destructive it is. Managing through fear rarely leads to productivity, eudemonia, or engagement. It often leads to a negative reputation, high turnover costs, sabotage in the workplace, and unnecessary extra expense to attempt to get the team working together.

Here are ten ways to know you are being managed by fear. Your boss/organization:

1. Focuses on what is done wrong and offers frequent criticism of your work

2. Yells at employees and uses public humiliation as a weapon

3. Has an abnormally high rate of employee turnover

4. Fosters resentment between employees; this creates negative conflict between those who should be sharing resources

5. Plays and allows others to play the blame game, “It wasn’t me!”

6. Destroys creativity and acceptance of change, forcing people into mindless patterns of behavior

7. Spends more time micromanaging than watching the competition or the marketplace

8. Has a negative reputation in the community

9. Finds ways to sabotage new employees and projects

10. Thinks that it is his/her/their way or the highway, or the organization will falter

I view management by fear as a lazy approach to management. It’s lazy because it doesn’t require effort or time to build trust. Trust and engagement in an organization has significant financial implications. Gallup found that 71% of employees are not engaged, costing the nation over $300 billion dollars in lost productivity. PeopleMetrics found that profitable companies have 50% more engaged employees. Watson Wyatt found that engaged workforces offered 26% higher revenue per employee and 13% higher returns to shareholders. People who manage by fear are being lazy, but they’re also costing their organization and its' shareholders significant sums of money.

To start your boss or your organization down the road of meaningful change that will bring them into the 21st century, try the following. Ask your boss/organization to:

1. Focus on what is being done right or well, i.e. positive reinforcement

2. Praise in public, and discipline in private

3. Delegate responsibility to capable employees

4. Reward actions that foster team development, creativity, and innovation

5. Accept multiple avenues of goal accomplishment

The process of change out of a management by fear mindset will take time. However, I encourage you to get started as soon as possible. Remember that organizations don’t change, people do. The only way to foster the cultural change is to go through the organization one person at a time.

When it comes to management, I prefer management by F.E.A.R. – Face Everything And Respond. Face everything and respond positively, with meaningful purpose.

Doing so will create a community, and triple bottom line wealth.

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