Is an "environment of fear" good for productivity in the workplace?

Fear of getting fired, that is


Do you think it is productive or counter-productive? To what extent and why?

2 Answers

  • Anonymous
    1 decade ago
    Favorite Answer

    I will start out by saying that an "environment of fear" is psychologically unhealthy. However, your question was whether fear of being fired will motivate employees to be more productive. Fear is motivating, but it does not lead to greater productivity in most personality types. Such an environment ONLY yields more productivity in D personality types, because they prize accomplishment and find harshness (in many forms) motivational. An "environment of fear" has a crippling effect on I personality types, who tend to function more successfully where they find relational harmony and good feelings...not threats. Fear has a destabilizing effect on S personality types, who treasure security and predictability, and find it difficult to concentrate at all on their work in an environment that feels unstable. (I know; I have worked in such a setting and found it difficult to think about my work because of the instability of the job environment. I do work hard and do a good job, and got 2 raises while I worked there, but that didn't make me feel any more secure, and I ended up quitting because I couldn't stand the "environment of fear." They have since asked me to come back to work there, since they liked my work, but I refused for the sole reason that I cannot STAND the "environment of fear.") Fear is frustrating to a C personality type, who is already internally motivated to be productive, and already finds it difficult to meet up to his own standards of perfection for himself. It's not like he needs MORE external pressure when he already puts this much pressure on himself. To relieve the extra pressure he feels, he is likely to divert responsibility and blame others and try to get other good employees in trouble, in such a setting, in order to protect his own skin (even though he is already a good employee), which of course does not lead to good company morale....I have seen this happen, more than once.

    And it is unfair to create such an "environment of fear" if you lack:

    1. Clear, defined standards of work and behavioral expectations for each employee. (Usually the latter exists in an office handbook, but often the former is lacking - job descriptions often are not clearly defined, nor is the level of success required to keep the job.) How can an employee feel anything but frustrated, if the threat of being fired is constantly over his head, but he is not even sure what exactly is expected of him in order to keep the job? An "environment of fear" would be frustrating, not motivating, and will result in people leaving the company frequently.

    2. Consistency in the enforcement of these standards. (Leniency towards certain employees, due to favoritism, tends to blur what is the overall standard required of employees. Other employees see and assume certain behaviors - even if they are stated, in company policy, as unacceptable - are acceptable, since the "favorite" employees get away with them. Enforcing the rules only sometimes has the same effect. The rules must be consistently enforced - in every case, with every person - in order for them to be taken seriously.)

    3. Stable managers. If managers allow their own volatility, moodiness, or even sexual interest keep them from treating employees fairly, they will bring down company productivity. There are many managers who make rash decisions when they are in a bad mood, and act as if they have revised their expectations of the employees. The employees think they are in trouble over small things (when actually it was just that the supervisor was in a bad mood). The next day another employee may do something similar, and not get the same reaction from the supervisor. This leads to confusion on the part of employees as to what is expected of them. Refer back to point #1. Confusion over expectations does not yield productivity. Managers who give special favors to employees they find sexy will find their overall company productivity falling as well, since employees will start to assume that such attractiveness is required for success in the company. Employees will be disgusted, embittered, or compete with one another in unhealthy ways. This yields bad company morale, which can only result in overall decrease in employee productivity.

  • snpuck
    Lv 4
    1 decade ago

    Could be, especially if you have a reason to fear being fired because you are not productive.

    Source(s): A business owner
Still have questions? Get your answers by asking now.