Unfortunately, there are countless situations of people being promoted to a position of authority without any training on effective management techniques. When that happens, many new supervisors default to an authoritative approach. They use fear and intimidation as management tactics, yet much of it stems from their own fear of being exposed as an unqualified manager.
At one of my previous companies, some restructuring was taking place, and several leaders were discussing where one particular employee would best fit in the organization. One of those leaders suggested that the employee be placed under him “because of the fear.” He held the belief that his employees would do anything he asked because he was the boss and people were scared of him. He simply didn’t know how else to manage.
Here are a few classic signs of managing out of fear and intimidation:
- Believe that employees should do anything they ask because they are the manager.
- Refuse to take questions from employees.
- The only good ideas are their ideas.
- Consistently criticized on employee feedback surveys for not being receptive to employee ideas or questions.
Without question, this type of management style can lead to a hostile work environment, which creates significant risk for the company, including the possibility of lawsuits or fines. But it can be prevented with the proper training and support for managers to succeed in their roles, just as many other employee issues can be prevented with the proper training and support.
New managers (and established managers set in their ways) may need specific training and mentoring around how to manage people. With the proper training and support, their own insecurities about the job will diminish, which typically makes them more approachable for employees. It’s also important to create a culture of collaboration so that employees at all levels embrace sharing ideas and supporting one another.
And, as with any employee issue, if the employee doesn’t demonstrate improvement over time, it may be necessary to move to the next step and terminate. Taking the necessary action with one employee, especially one whose role directly impacts other employees, reinforces your commitment to create a collaborative and supportive work environment.