Are Your Supervisors Using Intimidation Tactics in the Workplace?

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Experienced and rational leaders agree that leading by intimidation is a completely unacceptable method of managing the employees. Leaders should ensure that the workplace is a hostile free environment by protecting the front line employees from abusive, aggressive and overzealous supervisors and team leaders.

We can all agree that leaders who rule by intimidation are found everywhere, in every sector of industry. However; non-English speaking, front line Hispanic employees are at a much greater disadvantage for two major reasons. First, as we mentioned earlier, their limited English skills isolates them from upper management. Second, they are unwilling to come forward for fear of placing their jobs at risk.

The fact that the problem goes unreported for years only re-enforces the habit of ruling by intimidation. Ironically, it becomes standard operating procedure for others to follow when they move up through the ranks.

Since the supervisors’ leadership skills arsenal is limited, they rely on the crude tools they learned from their untrained predecessors. In the absence of effective leadership skills training, intimidation techniques are handed over from one unskilled supervisor to another.

Although intimidation is a negative motivator, it is still a powerful motivator. It implies that there are dire consequences for not following “orders” or instructions such as: “do what I say, or else.” Many front line Hispanic employees have often heard the clear threat behind the message: “si no te gusta, allí esta la puerta” which means “if you don’t like it, there’s the door.”

Sadly, there are department leaders who are completely unaware or; may not even suspect that their front line supervisors may be using this strong arm tactic. On the contrary, they see impressive production figures and congratulate them for doing a superb job. In effect, giving them the green light to continue doing what they’re doing.

There are many problems associated with leading through intimidation. The most obvious one is that it stifles independent thinking and prevents the employees from developing or realizing their potential abilities. Morale and trust are the casualties of a workplace that leads by intimidation.

Leading through intimidation is a sign that there may be a large communication divide or disconnect between the supervisor and his immediate leader.