Wednesday, March 20, 2013

You Can't Train An Old Dog, But You Can Ruin a New One

Photo by HunterJumper
In the previous post, I explained that leading through fear may increase short term results, but also increases long term damage.

So why do so many managers use fear to try to motivate employees?

The problem is, too many managers have been trained in the art fear management.

I once worked for a bully.  He came from a place and time where management through fear was an accepted way of doing things.  He was awful to work for and he refused to change.  You can't teach an old dog new tricks.

Unfortunately, you can train a young dog the wrong way.  He hired a new assistant store manager.  When this new assistant started, he was excited, enthusiastic, and we enjoyed working for him.  The departments he oversaw had good morale and high productivity.  But, the poor management techniques of the store manager were taught to this new assistant and eventually he was using management through fear as well.

Managers who use fear tactics are under the illusion they work because they can see immediate results.  Intimidation and threats make people afraid that they might lose their job.  They may work harder or work extra hours in the short term in order to keep their job and avoid the threat.  Inevitably, the manager sees the positive results he achieved using fear and continues to use it.  The manager equates fear with productivity.  But, what they really end up doing is accumulating negative long term results in order to acheive the immediate, high productivity outcome.

The problem is that fear is the foundation of anger and those who make us afraid also make us angry.  Angry employees resent what they are told to do, who tells them to do it and morale drops.  You can do this for only so long before anger and resentment overcome the fear, then your productivity plateaus and eventually falls.  Turnover rates increase and hiring and training costs rise.  You may drive short term success through fear, but long term success will be elusive.

What eventually happened where I worked for a bully (and his assistant)?  The results were predictable.  In the short term, sales were high and the business successful.  But as the manager and his assistant continued to use fear to motivate employees, morale fell, turnover increased, customer service suffered, and revenues shrank.  Interestingly, neither the store manager nor his assistant could understand why things were declining.  They refused to believe that it had anything to do with them.  They were in denial that fear management was a failure.

Do you manage by fear or are you in denial?  In the next post I'll look at some of the traits of a bully manager and you may see some things you might not have realized are part of fear management.  Who knows?  You might discover something about yourself.  Better to discover it now and change, than to continue down the road to long term damage, low morale and falling profits.

Related Posts:  Fear and Loathing In the Office
                        Are You a Bully Manager?  Take the Test

No comments:

Post a Comment