Bosses too threatening for modern employees

by HRM24 Apr 2013

There are all kinds of management styles, from the kindly or motherly, to the tyrant, but it seems almost half of managers are scaring their employees into under-productivity.

According to a survey of more than 1,200 UK employees, almost half (47%) feel “actively threatened” by their leaders.

Civil service leaders are the most threatening bosses in the UK with almost three-quarters of their employees reporting their fears in the research by leadership development consultancy Head, Heart and Brain.

Scientists (63%) and doctors (60%) were the second and third most threatened professionals, results showed.

It seems the that the economic climate might be to blame, as public and private sector leaders continue to feel they have to run just to stand still.  

“[Bosses] are under immense pressure to make their organizations leaner, while also improving performance. And pressure breeds threatening behaviour if it isn’t channelled in the right way,” Jan Hills, partner at Head, Heart and Brain, said. “If it is managed in the wrong way, stress can gradually erode the quality of their leadership until it deteriorates to a disastrously low level. It creates a vicious downward cycle where productivity begins to suffer as the work force begins to feel increasingly threatened by brain-fried leaders,” Hills added.

There was a failing among leaders to send out positive signals of reward to their employees, making them feel demoralised and contributing to underperformance. This contributed to organizations performing worse, and perhaps pushing bosses to become even tougher, which in turn escalates the problem.

Hill said neuroscience shows the best leaders consciously manage their employees in a way that makes them feel rewarded.  Feelings of reward boost engagement, decision making skills, and productivity. However, if employees feel threatened, they process information less effectively and can’t perform at their best.

 

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