Management by Fear and Intimidation, Research Paper Example

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Research Paper

Introduction

Management by fear and intimidation (MBI) is a highly known product of managers in many fields today. These managers feel that if they are able to be feared and intimidated by their employees, then they are able to get things accomplished. However, management by fear and intimidation has a negative impact on employee morale. It can be devastating to a company’s bottom line and slowly destroy a company from the inside out. When a person is frightened, they are inclined to do things they normally would never think of doing. Fraud, theft and poor employee judgment are a direct result of the intimidation style. Many top, middle and front line managers have no idea they are managing their teams by fear. They have been trained over the years the same way and inadvertently pass down this style. Employees do not respect a superior who attempts to intimidate them on a daily basis.

If we take a step back and look at ourselves and how we are individually motivated, we will find that fear is not high on our list. Each individual is motivated by something completely different and his or her manager must recognize what that is. Understanding how or what motivates an employee is critical to the health and longevity of a business. A manager influences their employees on a daily basis positively or negatively. The long term negative impacts are lasting while the successes are short lived. Gaining respect from an employee will give them a sense of pride in their work. “Wanting” to do a job and “doing” a job are two completely different things. A manager who can empower his or her employees to “want” to work is an asset to any company. This paper will explain the problem in more detail, will show the opposing side, and will give the reader a clear idea of why the opposing side is wrong; fear and intimidation management is not meant to be used in companies by upper management if they want to succeed.

The problem

According to Teller Vision, an interview based training company for bank tellers, customer service representatives, and front line personnel (2006), there are short term gains and long term effects from intimidation management. There are gains that will be short lived once an employee is burnt out or has had enough.  “Overtime, when you’ve been continually pounded upon by this type of management, there’s just not desire to invest the extra effort” (Teller Vision, 2006, 7). This system fails the employee in several different ways. The article by Slemo D. Warigon (2006) explores all of the traits that Managers by Intimidation (MBI) possess and the toxic results that could result from their management style. Some of the examples include Use of Threats, Censored Communication, Self-Centeredness, Double Standards, and Lack of Diversity to name a few. The typical results to a company due to this type of manager are unmotivated employees, high employee turnover, climate of distrust and fire-fighting management.  The problem is that “MBI practitioners threaten or intimidate people to perform, not inspire people to do their best (Warigon, 2006).  A job is being performed instead of engaging in growth and prospering of a company. Employees will not communicate or use their own creativity.  Many times, this style of management is learned. Their boss at some point in time, who was successful, ruled this way. “When emerging leaders adopt the same approach as their menacing managers, they will institutionalize this culture of intimidation and exclusivity throughout the organization, affecting other layers and generations of employees” (Teller Vision, 2006, 7). Fear management is a learned behavior that can be engrained in an organization which is passed down from manager to manager. Its results can be toxic to a company if not performed correctly. Employee morale decreases and turnover increases.

There are also leaders we consider to be bullies in the workplace. The article entitled “Leadership: Are You a Bully Leader?” by Donna Price (2010) explains that bully leaders are unaware of the way they bark orders and the impact it has on employees. A bully leader does not see the narrow mindedness or lack of creativity that they have created; they only see the short term results. “A bully leader can shift and become an empowering coaching leader through intentional focus and work” (Price, 2010). Trust is first and foremost and cannot be gained quickly; it is earned. Companies throughout the world are now recognizing this style of management and are quickly trying to change the culture. Honestly, this is what they should be doing. This is a real problem within leadership management today and something should be done.

The Opposition

There has been research performed that says fear management is effective. The military (marines) uses fear management and is a studied organization by public and private businesses for their effectiveness. The article “Love and Fear, the Modern Boss” by Scott Snook (2008) changes direction a little. It speaks of the 500 year old idea of Niccolo Machiavell asking if leaders should be feared or loved. Examples of modern day leaders in modern organizations used the method of fear management and are successful, to a point. Some people are wired that way and need fear in their lives to get them from point A to point B. “Another reason is that some people feel a sense of pride and accomplishment in toughing it out; they find satisfaction in meeting the standards of a very demanding boss” (Snook, 2008). Ruling by fear and being loved both have their downsides. Successful leaders read the signals and adapt their styles accordingly, but they know their limits (Snook, 2008).

Refuting the Opposition

Fear management can be an effective tool if utilized correctly. However, there is a fine line and not many managers have mastered this style. On the other hand, a manager that is too easy on an employee could potentially have a Human Resources issue on their hands. The article “Leadership through Fear: Riding on a Tiger” by Bob Garner (2012) references Winston Churchill’s leadership style and the respect he had/has. It speaks to leaders getting short term results from fear based management styles and compared them to riding on the back of a tiger. Once you fall off, you will be consumed, not leading anymore. Garner (2012) states “leadership is not about pushing. It’s about pulling. By that I mean, an effective leader helps employees draw forth their skills and talents, as well as find new ones, and use them to not only improve the bottom lines, but also themselves as people.” This could never be accomplished by fear alone. The article “Leadership and the Fear Factor” by Michael Maccoby, Jody Hoffer Gittell, and Michael Ledeen (2004) attempts to dissect the statement “is it better to be feared than loved.” Fear in the workplace is effective but has its negative effects. Leaders have to find the fine line between an employee loving you and fearing you. “The best leader is the one who helps people so that eventually they don’t need him. Next comes the leader who is loved and admired. Next, one who is feared. And worst of all is the one who lets people push him around – who, in effect, is no leader at all (Maccoby et al, 2004). Our goals as leaders are to generate an emotional response from an employee not to instill fear on a day to day basis. “Fear breeds insecurity and dysfunction; positive relationships lead to teamwork and better performance (Gittell, 2004).

Conclusion

Instead of using the MBI practices, a manager should be using their experiences and passion for the business to lead. Bringing a sound, proven management philosophy along with integrity and respect will compel a company to flourish for many years. According to Slemo Warigon (2006), “MBI practices do not encourage an ethical climate and can result in noncompliance with the established policies, procedures and regulations.” This is not the way in which a company should have to maintain its standards. It is true that MBI practices can be effective. However, they must be used sparingly and they must be used by a person who is able to not only intimidate, but also encourage his or her employees.  Not all managers should attempt this style of management. Organizations need to drive the fear and intimidation management style out of their business. A leader pulls an employee. A leader does not push them. Leaders are capable of making employees engage in and enjoy their jobs rather than help them hate what they do every day. If companies continue to allow MBI practices, there will be more hostility in the workplace, more employee turnover, and less people actually enjoying what they do.

References

Garner, B. (2012, June 11). Leadership through fear: Ridging on a tiger. Retrieved from http://www.sooperarticles.com/self-improvement-articles/leadership-articles/leadership-through-fear-riding-tiger-971555.html

Intimidation fails as a management strategy. (2006). Teller Vision, (1349), 7.

Maccoby, M., Gittell, J., & Ledeen, M. A. (2004). Leadership and the fear factor. MIT Sloan Management Review, 45(2), 14-18.

Price, D. L. (2010, November 09). Leadership: Are you a bully leader? Retrieved from http://www.selfgrowth.com/print/582826

Snook, S. A. (2008). Love and fear and the modern boss. Harvard Business Review, 86(1), 16 17.

Warigon, S. D. (2006, January 23). Impact of management by intimidation on human capital: Is it destroying your organization? Retrieved from http://www.docstoc.com/docs/41811869/Managing-People-for-Organizational-Success

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