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Fear-Based Motivation

Fear-Based Motivation

Fear can be an effective catalyst for motivation. For example, if your boss tells you to get your project done on time or you will lose your job, you can be sure you’re going to do everything in your power to get that project done. You may resent your boss for doing this, but you are probably going to do as he or she wishes unless you are looking to get fired.

Another situation where fear will motivate you is when something crucial breaks in your home. It could be the furnace giving out in the middle of winter. You are at a point where you have no choice but to call for expensive repairs. If you don’t, you’ll risk the pipes freezing and being uncomfortable.

We all have a certain amount of fear-based motivation. But, is it the best way to get people to do things? In the case of the furnace, you’ll have no choice and have to chalk it up to being a part of life. But, in the case of your boss harping on to you, is there a better way for him or her to handle the situation? Can you continually work in an environment based on that kind of fear?

It’s questionable whether motivation based on fear is sustainable. If you are an employee and there aren’t many jobs available as alternatives, you may feel like you have no choice but to comply. But, sometimes, this kind of negative working environment gets people more motivated to get out of the situation. In other words, the motivation tactics may work in the short-term, but eventually, employers may experience a high turnover when those employees recognize there are other choices. The internet is a great equalizer in this regard as more people can choose to freelance on their terms.

There’s an old saying about how you catch more flies with (vegan) honey. 😊 If managers would recognize they would get more loyalty out of people by offering incentives rather than scare tactics to get their employees to do the work, maybe turnover wouldn’t be so high. Unfortunately, these managers don’t learn this until it’s too late. And even then, will they make any changes? Often, they make the justification that it’s the employee’s fault and they decided to leave.

Think about the impact you have if you are a manager trying to motivate your employees. If you have used fear as a motivator, is it something that has worked for you in the long-term? Or, did you simply set an environment where people couldn’t wait to get away?

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