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Leadership Living Well

How to Avoid Fear-Based Management

Having a fear-based environment is one of the worst things that you can do for your employees and your organization. Did you know that when people live in fear of punishment that they are less productive, less likely to invest their time and talents, and far more likely to leave faster than the average employee or follower would?

When living in a culture of fear — whether it’s being publicly humiliated, embarrassed in private, or fear of being fired or cast out — every single person involved, even the leader, is more stressed out than should be. And, unfortunately, the effects often snowball and carry into other areas as well.

In order to avoid that kind of environment, you, as a leader, need to be aware of how you’re managing your people. You must choose to manage out of honesty, integrity, and transparency, instead using an iron fist or underhanded tactics that create fear in those who you lead.

Here are a few tips to help avoid fear-based management:

Be Clear About Expectations and Actions

If people are uncertain about their roles, they often feel insecure and don’t perform well because they are afraid that they’ll do something wrong! Make sure that you take time early on with each person individually to make sure they understand their role, the goals of the organization, your expectations, and anything else they need to be successful.

Trust But Verify

Micromanagement is one of the worst things you can do to an employee. When someone feels they are being watched at every turn, they often develop a sense of constant anxiety. You need to trust that your people are doing well, but be clear with them on the front end that you will be verifying that trust. Make it clear when and how you’ll be doing this.

Be Mindful of How You Talk About Others

Nobody likes to be talked about behind their backs. Speak positively about everyone to everyone else. If have a problem with the way someone is doing something, speak to them directly and don’t make them feel like you’ll be gossiping about them or embarrassing them behind their back. Additionally, when you do need to make a correction, be careful how you word your delivery. Be kind and focus on their actions, not their value as a person or employee.

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