Q: I work for a guy who thinks keeping his team terrified is a recommended management practice. In reality, we're all demoralized, jumpy...
Q: I work for a guy who thinks keeping his team terrified is a recommended management practice. In reality, we’re all demoralized, jumpy and more concerned about safety than productivity. How do I get my manager to see that fearing him isn’t respect, so he’ll quit his intimidation tactics?
A: If you work for a profit-driven company, you can appeal to his need to make money to get him to stop. If you work for a government or nonprofit organization, you’ll have to appeal to his need for territory or image.
Realize that many people in management today never had any classes called “Motivating Humans 101.” Instead, they learned by imitating the intimidation of the people managing them. Ironically, many bosses who scare employees are using what feels familiar and safe to the boss.
Now, I know some readers are asking why managers would repeat the same behavior that made them miserable as employees. The answer, dear reader, can be found in hazing psychology. Many managers think they made it into the honorable fraternity of management by suffering and, well, now it’s your turn.
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The other reality is that fear does get lightning-fast results in the short run. Of course, in the long run fear burns people out and makes them unwilling to do their jobs well.
Since it’s unlikely your boss will admit he actually has no idea how to manage you, make it easy for him to save face. Ask for a private meeting. Let him know that you want to do good work and you know he doesn’t intend to discourage risk-taking. Then give him some concrete examples where the team’s profit — or his territory or image — is hampered by avoiding risks.
Make him a partner in solving the problem of increasing profit, territory or his image, and you will have his ear.
Challenge or criticize his approach, and you’ll find the reins on his reign of terror even tighter.
Q: I’m so tired of having to learn new things in my industry. Is there ever a point where you get to rest on your laurels?
A: Yes, the land of laurel-resting is called retirement.
Daneen Skube, Ph.D., is an executive coach, trainer, therapist, speaker and author of “Interpersonal Edge: Breakthrough Tools for Talking to Anyone, Anywhere, About Anything” (Hay House, 2006). She can be reached at 1420 N.W. Gilman Blvd., No. 2845, Issaquah, WA 98027-7001; by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org