Throughout some recent experiences I have had, I am seeing a disturbing trend in the way managers are implementing rules in their organizations. Fear seems to be more the norm in today’s market for enforcing company policies. The idea being that if someone is afraid of losing their job, they will be more apt to follow directions to the letter. In my opinion, all this does is instill a profile of an abused personality.
If we stop to think about it for a minute you will begin to understand my view on this type of philosophy. I can remember a long time ago a friend of mine had a small Dalmatian dog. The dog was not very well behaved and my friend was not a very patient person. Every time the dog would go to the bathroom in the house he would hit the dog with a rolled up paper and scream at him, “Stupid dog”! Eventually it got to the point that when my friend would come home, the dog would run from him urinating across the floor as he retreated in fear. A perfect example of how fear and negative re-enforcement doesn’t work on animals.
People will respond in the same way if you use fear in an attempt to control them. If you constantly degrade your team and keep them in fear for their jobs, there is a limited amount of possible outcomes: One, the team member will look for a new place to work where their talents are appreciated. Two, the team member will try and hide or cover up mistakes, to avoid reprisal. Or three, the team member will seek out the negative attention, since that is the only acknowledgement they receive, similar to the behavior of a long abused person.
You should never attempt to control people. The best way to get results is to catch them doing something right and reward them for this behavior. The reward doesn’t have to be money, or anything that costs the company money. Most people would rather have their leader say “good job” than receive a small token of monetary compensation. Be clear on your expectations, hold them accountable for their performance, and give as much positive re-enforcement as possible. You will end up with a much more efficient team who understands the importance of following company policies and procedures. Support and training will always have better results than fear; and a ‘team’ culture will always be more effective than a boss /employee relationship.
If you continue to have issues with policies being followed you need to analyze the process. More than likely there is a breakdown in the process itself. Ask yourself; are there steps that can be implemented to insure proper procedure is followed? Many times, if you reach out to your team they can help you develop the steps to mitigate the exposure of a process that is not being followed. Asking them for help will have a profound effect on your team. It shows them that you don’t have all the answers and that you need their help. It also lets your team know that this is important to you and not just another policy or procedure. It reinforces the team mentality overall.
There may be circumstances, when policies are not being followed, where you just have a rogue team member. In those cases you have to take the time to analyze the situation and make sure that this is an employee issue and not a process issue. Otherwise, you may make the wrong decision, and that could have adverse affects to your entire team. However, once a rogue employee is identified, you need to remove them from your team as quickly as possible. Once you have removed that employee make sure that you take the time to explain the circumstances to your entire team. Rumors fly fast and furious when someone loses their job in any company. You do not want your team thinking that this employee was removed due to a mistake or a hole in the system. You do not want your team to start being afraid for their jobs. They need to understand exactly what that team member did wrong and why that person was removed.
In the end you want your team to feel comfortable coming to you with issues and making suggestions to improve processes. If you use ‘the fear factor’, all that will happen is that your team will become introverted and start trying to hide, both literally and figuratively, and the last thing you want is to have things being hidden from you. As I always say to my team “I can’t fight what I can’t see”. So make sure that a culture is set forth to encourage unity and collaboration and you will never have to resort to using fear. If your team understands the expectations and processes, has a culture where they can question without reprisals, and believes that you are committed to their success, you should have a team that is dedicated to following the company policies and processes, which leads to everyone’s success.