Jan 13, 201411:04 AMMind Your Business
with Corey Chambas
Management by fear and intimidation … it works
(page 1 of 2)
I just finished reading Inferno by Dan Brown, and in the book there’s a line that goes something like this: “Only one form of contagion travels faster than a virus — and that’s fear.” It got stuck it in my head and caused me to think about how fear plays out in business. This definitely relates to the psychology of the individual investor and the stock market, which is alternatively driven by either greed or fear. (“I’m missing out and I’ve got to get in” when it has gone up or “I’ve got to get out” when it has gone down.) But it also made me think about fear and intimidation as a management strategy. Does it work?
I believe it does work for getting short-term desired results. When people are afraid of getting yelled at or maybe even losing their jobs, they are going to do whatever’s required to meet the boss’s explicit expectations. But there are caveats: The effectiveness is short term and it’s about meeting expectations.
A big limitation is that while someone who is managed via intimidation will fearfully work to meet expectations, he or she will not likely exceed expectations and will certainly not work to his or her full potential. Why would people put in extra effort for a boss they don’t like or respect? They’ll do the minimum required to stay out of hot water, but that’s it. There’s an adage about getting optimal performance from people by capturing not only their heads but also their hearts. If you appeal to your employees in a more respectful and encouraging way, they will be engaged and committed, and even feel motivated to surpass your expectations because their internal expectations will be even higher.