For decades, we've read the books, gone to the lectures and attended the seminars. Experts like Tom Peters and Ken Blanchard have told us over and over that effective managers serve as leaders and coaches, empowering their staff, nurturing them, guiding them and motivating them.
Then, you go back to your office and reality sets in. It quickly becomes clear that your manager (or his manager) didn't go to the seminar or read the book. Threats come rolling down the chain of command, and you quickly realize that the environment is anything but nurturing.
Perhaps, still aglow from the seminar, you attempt to infect your supervisor with the enthusiasm you feel for these new ideas for raising productivity and morale. With a wave of his hand, he dismisses your suggestions, "Ah, they just say that stuff to sell books. What works in the real world is fear."
So, you do some research, and, to your horror, you find that it appears to be true. The evidence suggests that management by intimidation and threat (MBIT) actually does work—for a while. Businesses that practice MBIT do see increased productivity and employee competency. They report a surge in efficiency from the masses, who fear for their jobs.
But then, the fall out begins. In a short time, two types of employee personalities will begin to emerge.
The first is the drone. Drones have been beaten down (verbally) and threatened to the point where they have no incentive to think independently. They don't care about doing a good job, only about doing a job just well enough to avoid getting fired. There is no joy, no enthusiasm and no loyalty.
The second type of employee created by MBIT is the evolutionary rebel. These employees comply for a while. Then their morale, their productivity and their competence begin to deteriorate. One day, they up and leave, forcing the company to start the hiring and training process all over again.
This may not sound like such a big deal, but large—scale employee turn over actually compromises both a corporation's health and profitability. Yet many companies haven't figured that out . Because it doesn't show up in one particular place on the P&L statement, it's easy to ignore the cost of high turnover. Many simply dismiss it as part of the cost of doing business in these times. But it doesn't have to be that way.
Theodore Roosevelt is quoted as saying; "The best [leader] is the one who has sense enough to pick good [people] to do what he/she wants done, and self-restraint enough to keep from meddling with them while they do it." It makes sense, doesn't it? After all, so much time is spent reviewing resumes, conducting interviews and checking references in order to hire these people. Wouldn't it be logical to then actually let them do the job you hired them to do?
This is a sign of respect, and treating your people with respect does not have a downside. Train them, support them, listen to their ideas, encourage teamwork and give them a pat on the back every now and then. Be a true mentor and groom your best staffers to follow you up the ladder. Give them feed back to encourage them when they do well, and to give them a chance to learn and improve when they don't.
Imagine building company loyalty that is felt from top to bottom. Think what it would be like to have employees who are willing to go that extra mile —those who work smarter, work harder and consistently give their best efforts to the company—staff members who volunteer to work overtime and develop ways to save money. Become a true leader to your staff and your company will win in the long run.
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