Why do managers use "management by fear"?
So many times I have seen managers that use their power as managers to scare people to do things. Why does this still exist in 21 century? This is an old school way of managing that we should flush out. I am curious why others think this practice still exists.
Mats what do you expect to get from asking a question like that? I'm teasing of course and I hope my humor is not overdone. Seriously, I think you pose a very important question. I can think of two reasons (surely there are more): 1) the managers own inadequacies and fears that they are incapable of maintaining control and 2) a feeling that such behavior will make the managers boss(es) happy. Both of these reflect poorly on the person(s) to whom the manager reports. In part I think it still exists today because factors 1 and 2 afflict senior management as well.
Our culture still contains this approach to handling children. When you are raised this way, it is very difficult to not have this same behavior as you move on through life.
So the solution is to somehow get mothers and fathers to quit threatening their children so they will behave. The same goes for all levels of school.
Then, as managers are groomed for their roles, good companies should perform training and performance analaysis that ensures that threatening behavior is not performed.
And as individuals, we simply will not work for threatening managers. We will find work elsewhere and move on. But there's the rub. Jobs are scarce. It's not easy to find another job. So the threatening manager gets away with his (or her) abhorent behavior. He or she threatens because he can.
It's all they know Mats and consequently they are living on the liability side of the balance sheet. Impact? Lack of engagement + reduced productivity = high turnover. Today true leaders lead from the heart and those who do, reap the benefits.
The responsibility for perceived fear is being misplaced. While there are managers who may have questionable and flat-out ineffective methods of management, when an employee feels fear, the reason and responsibility for the fear is theirs to own. An individual is ultimately responsible for their own actions, and that responsibility extends to their feels about actions/etc. done to them. If an employee feels fearful of their manager, as a person, or if they feel fearful of the manager's style of managing, they need to ask "why" they feel that way, then take appropriate action to address/rectify those feelings.
Do they feel scared/fearful because the manager will yell at them? No, a manager should not yell, but maybe there is validity to what they are yelling about.
Do they feel scared/fearful because the manager is known for terminating people and they feel they may be on the chopping block? Yes, a manager should take action to train and retain members of their team, but maybe the manager just doesn't have time to babysit people, dealing with elementary issues (tardiness, laziness, disrespect, etc). Maybe the employee should examine why they even suspect they could be on the chopping block.
If at the end of the day, the employee feels that there is no validity to the problems/concerns of the manager and that the manager is just some crazed individual, they have two options: talk to the manager or look elsewhere for employment. Especially if the manager is NOT the business owner, if operations are impacted, by say high turnover, ultimately impacting the bottom line, the owner will either directly notice what is happening, or investigate and discover how this manager is impacting their business. If the manager is the owner, they will see, at some point, that what they are doing is not working, assuming there is a negative financial impact on their business. But here's the deal... No one owes the employee a job. If they have exhausted all their resources to deal with what they feel is the issue, and nothing changes, they should leave and take their stellar performance elsewhere. If they are as much an asset as they perceive, the manager will recognize the error of their ways, eventually.
Managers should be trained on a consistent basis and in their managerial role, a lot of responsibility falls to their feet, but that does not allow the employee to abdicate their responsibility for their own feelings. If people have the power to control your feelings, you have bigger issues at play.
I think we need to at this from the following viewpoints:
1. The brought up
2. The culture of the society
3. The hierarchy level of the manager
4. The perception and quality of the manager
At different mix of the above, different results expected. "Management by fear" may not be the same as before, but it should remain effective in some forms and with new features such as fear + sweetener + freebies.
I will try answer this this way-----If you have an employee or group of employees who do not adhere who choose not to listen, or tend to tune you out and think they gat away with it, and yet you think they have potential, sometimes you use the stick to get their attention......
Very often when they can't get enough credibility among the employees
Well, there are a lot of 'thought out' and sophisticated answers here.
Some are just blaming the manager's potty-training.
Why is it always the manager's fault?
When you point a finger, you have three pointing back at yourself.
Anyways, there are only two ways to control people:
1 With respect.
2. With fear.
If you are ever in a position of authority, you can take your pick. I happen to use both from time to time.
I would rather people respect me than fear me, but, I do what I need to do to get the job done.
And btw, there are a lot of employees that have no idea how to show respect or they just don't want
to and that leaves the manager with no choice.
I guess many mangers just dismiss the most important aspect of leadership ,which is credibility .
In order to be credible leader one should possess the following traits.
The manger's dilemma begins when he realizes that his credibility score is low ,so to compensate for this he might practice authority which is the only guaranteed tool that he possess to imply his orders.
Another factor is possessing an ideologic or autocratic leadership style which as you mentioned is an old school approach.
I believe that most convenient leadership styles that manger should pursue is the pragmatic leadership style.
Where he utilize his skills and expertise in overcoming the challenges that arises at any situation.
Please watch this video on pragmatic leadership for more info https://youtu.be/HngE46if1mk
Leadership styles : https://youtu.be/HngE46if1mk
Usually through lack of confidence and skills. This is why it is so important to give Managers the skills they need to be the best managers they can. They also need training in how to coach as managers and how to update their management style in response to the different drivers of the Generation Y employees now in the workplace.