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Are Your Employees Afraid of You?

Experiencing turnover? Not getting the results you want? Team not engaged? This might be because employees fear you. And you may not realize it.

This article from Harvard Business Review states, “...managing employees with pressure tactics resulted in more than a 90% increase in the predicted turnover of employees, while using more inspirational tactics was related to roughly a 68% decrease in likely turnover.”

Are you noticing any of the following?

  1. Employees don’t come up with new ideas that get put into practice.

  2. No one makes mistakes or fails, including you.

  3. Your team only puts out work when it’s perfect.

  4. You correct everything that comes your way.

  5. Employees only implement things that come from you or above you.

  6. Team members never argue with you or prove you wrong.

  7. People almost always communicate with you via email or messaging.

If you're experiencing any of these issues, try the following strategies:

Don’t Tell, Show - If you ask employees what they think about your style, they most likely won’t be honest. However, if you identify with one of these issues above, take it on and show them different behavior. And don’t be afraid to up-front it. Go to a couple of employees you haven’t worked closely with and say “I’ve noticed that I haven’t done a good job of encouraging new ideas and I want to be better at that. Let’s work together on this project.” Then implement the team’s ideas and give them the credit.

Let Perfection Go - Unless you’re a brain surgeon, or putting a rocket ship into space, don't get hung up on perfection. Delegation is the best way to get over perfection. If a team member states that they want to learn a new skill, delegate an important project. Be sure to spend time training and set milestones for follow-up.

Ask for a Fight - Encourage your employees to argue with you. I was in a meeting today and said “fight for it if you believe in it!" Conflict is healthy. You want diverse ideas to work the problem and come up with the best solutions. Go out of your way in meetings to ask people to argue with you. Present an idea and say “I challenge each of you to come up with a better idea!”

Do In-Person Vs. In-Writing - Emails and texts are convenient, but there is nothing better than pulling together a small group for five minutes to solve a problem. We are adamant about not putting out blanket emails that are negative. They bring your team down, and they don’t work. The more you can do in-person (including video conferencing) the better.

If you are being managed by fear, do all you can to not pass it to your employees. Create a culture where people can speak truthfully, engage in positive change, and feel like what they do matters. Then show your boss how your inclusive, inspirational tactics work over fear tactics.

More reading on fear in the workplace:

3 Reasons Why Leading with Fear is a Terrible Idea - Fast Company

What to Lead With Confidence, Not Fear? - Inc.


We have practical and affordable courses on these subjects. Try Providing Performance Feedback or Delegating. Email or call Margie Adams at 303-809-8093.

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