There are many possible answers to this question. One of the most common ones, however, is when a manager sends an email or leaves a voicemail with an employee requesting to meet with him. And, the longer the employee needs to wait to meet with his manager, the more anxious he becomes throughout the day.
The anxiety is further amplified when the employee doesn’t have any idea why his manager is requesting the meeting. In other words, he is afraid of getting “yelled at” for something.
Why does this happen?
This is quite a common reaction in those environments where managers only interact with employees when there is a problem – an old school management style where employees are managed through fear and intimidation. It’s also indicative of an environment where employees are viewed as nothing more than tools to get a job done. And it’s quite unfortunate because this brand of leadership can, and often does severely impede productivity as the employee is no longer focused on his task.
Rather, he is focused on why the “boss” wants to meet with him. With this distraction, employees are more prone to make mistakes and in such an anxious state, they may share their nervousness with others which can affect entire departments.
Some managers still believe it’s actually a good idea to keep a certain level of fear in his or her employees as they believe fear keeps people on their toes and increases productivity. The fact is, nothing could be further from the truth.
What should you do about it?
A much more effective and proven management style is one where managers visit with employees often, provide feedback (both positive and constructive) and manages by moving around. It’s interactive management involving skills taught in leadership training such as Active Listening, problem solving and conflict resolution.
Think of the positive relationships and rapport this management style builds with employees. With open, honest and consistent leadership, employees are much more likely to be upfront as well as open and honest with their managers which comes in real handy when trouble may be looming in the company.
Instead of hearing about problems and crises through a long grapevine, managers are brought into the loop much sooner.
Employees should not, and do not deserve to live in fear of their leaders. Fear-based leadership is not only a form of workplace bullying; it is highly disrespectful and forces top-producing employees out the door. It also scares strong candidates away from applying for key positions to fill critical roles.
Be the kind of leader people want to work for: set clear expectations, establish attainable goals, coach, praise often, and coach people through their mistakes.
Meeting with employees should be expected and anticipated – not feared.
Guest contributor Scott Seroka is an expert in Brand Development and Strategic Communications. He has taken leadership-training courses through Gordon Training International and writes for their blog.