Management Insight: The Negative Effect of Negative Management Practices

by Michael Josephson on July 1, 2012

Why are negative management practices so prevalent?

They include yelling, cursing, insults (sometimes masked in sarcasm or masquerading as jokes), criticizing subordinates in front of others, threatening demotion or termination, and talking to adults as if they were children.

Why are so many managers insensitive to the de-motivating impact of focusing almost exclusively on weaknesses and shortcomings without properly acknowledging successes and accomplishments?

Do they really believe that causing resentment, fear, or insecurity will produce better results than pride, self-confidence, and enthusiasm?

Some managers intentionally use negative tactics because they think it’s an effective way to get people to do what they’re told, but most managers characterized by the people who work for them as rude, inconsiderate, or abusive are totally unaware of how inappropriate or counterproductive their attempts to motivate are. They think they’re just being tough. The people under them think they’re just being jerks.

Many good people act badly when they become the boss because they’re under pressure from their own boss to get results. Maybe they’re simply mimicking the management styles of people they worked for. Or maybe they want to distinguish themselves from ineffective managers on the other extreme who try so hard to be everyone’s friend that they don’t set or achieve high goals or hold people accountable.

Whatever the reason, a far better approach is to treat everyone with respect by engaging and empowering others through inspiration and example. The best leaders bring out the best in people by making them feel good about themselves and their capabilities.

The simple fact is that while negative management practices may produce short-term results they always end up de-motivating and alienating employees causing them to leave or wish they could leave. This is not the kind of workforce that will be innovative or productive.

Inspiration is much more powerful than intimidation.

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