17 April 2013

Effects of Management by Fear - You may be doing it!


The fastest and easiest way to get people to obey or do their assigned work is by fear. This is preached in the West by "The Prince" by Machiavelli and in the East by the Legalistic School (Fa Jia 法家). In modern management, the theory X practices. But it is not the most effective and productive way in the long run. The reverse of by fear is by love or grace, or in modern management term, people-centered. But love could be badly misunderstood too. Here are the clarifications.
You can manage by fear. It works somewhat, but:

  1. You get the minimum standard achieved
    because doing more may incur mistake and your wrath.
  2. You get an overly optimistic view of reality
    because no one dare to tell you the bad truth and bad truth get distorted as good.
  3. So, you only get to know only when they blow-up and never earlier.
  4. If you want to avoid such heart-attack, change your style.
  5. You got branded as the Tyrant is due the way you handle mistakes made by others.
    Did you blow your top? Did they got severe punishment? Did they got embarrassed publicly? Reflect on how you handle others' mistakes.
  6. Extreme high incentive pay for performance is also management by fear -
    fear of loosing the high pay.
    So they do 
    1. incrementally safe improvement and 
    2. be quick to blame others.
  7. In religions, we call such practices as legalisms, following the letters of the laws and not the spirit or principle of the laws. We use the threats of the punishments and curse of God to get everyone to toll the line. A verse used frequently by the leaders to get the members to obey and kill off any corrections is "Touch not God's anointed".
Management by Grace or Love or People Centered 
is not about reducing the standards for excellence.  It is about taking interests in people and to do the following tasks of monitoring, correcting, teaching, coaching and encouraging to enable reaching of such BHAG(Big Hairy Audacious Goals) standards. 

The objective of high standards and excellence is same, just the approach is different.

Some good references to read are E W Deming's work on Pay for Performance, Maslow's hierarchy of needs and its modern version in Daniel Pink's Drive 3.0. 


Lim Liat (C) 17 Apr 2013 based on FB Note posted on May 17, 2011



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