Threats Get You Nowhere

Do any of these lead-ins sound familiar?

“If you don’t…”
“If you ever want to be…”
“If you refuse to do this my way…”

Typically, these types of lead-ins are followed by a threat. Something like:

“No one will ever want to hire you!”
“You’ll never get that promotion!”
“You won’t be working here long!’

Here’s the bottom line. Threats do not work. Sure, it’s possible you might evoke short-term motivation, but you are much more likely to demotivate, lose trust, and eventually watch employees on the receiving ends of those threats walk out the door. Ironically, if these same employees are encouraged rather than threatened, well, they might actually grow into an irreplaceable asset.

Instead of beginning an opportunity to correct someone with a phrase like, “If you don’t…” why not:

  • Create clear expectations before employees are hired that lets them know conversations along the lines of, “Let’s call a time-out and engage in a quick coaching session” are a normal part of the work process.
  • Remind employees during their performance reviews that “on-the-spot coaching” is a normal part of how your organization operates.
  • Make it a two-way street. Give your direct reports the freedom to coach you if they see an opportunity for improvement.

Such actions diminish the need to finger point, cajole, intimidate, and threaten and position you to be much more likely to get a favorable response from your direct reports. Additionally, you contribute to a workplace culture where employees begin to understand that coaching is not punishment. This decreases an “us versus them” mindset and enhances the likelihood of creativity, productivity, and teamwork.

Happy Training!

Greg Anderson
Written by:
Greg Anderson
President of Online Learning, Strategic Government Resources
Follow Greg on Twitter!@SGRGreg

2 responses

  1. Ideal work environments have 0% threatening and intimidation. They are 97% positive, constructive and developmental, and 3% certain true, fair punishment, not threats. 2 year olds know the difference between threats and real punishment. Birds can tell a scare crow from a real person. True fair, rare punishment eliminates the need for threats.

    1. Very true. Thanks for sharing, David!

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