Despite the best efforts of modern management texts such as PMBOK to promote self-motivation for employees, the majority of management professionals are still falling into the old command-and-control groove. As Lynda Bourne for the Project Management Institute explains, relaxing the iron grip on your team is the best way to let the productivity flow.
Fear, power, and control: they are the Swiss Army Knife of the modern dictator. They are also the perfect way to destroy productivity. Their effect on a project team can be summarized in just two words – low morale.
Bourne is right to argue that fear damages creativity…well, sometimes fear inspires creativity, but not in a way that managers find pleasing.
If people are scared of being blamed, the last thing they'll do is pass on accurate information about an issue or a problem. And effective management decision-making depends on the open transmission of bad news. Project controls staff must know what's really happening and need honest estimates of future consequences to provide planning advice.
Fear sabotages the communication lines that carry pertinent information between management and the managed. To give a sense of scale, according to Bourne, this miscommunication phenomenon cost the U.K. Universal Credit program ₤425 billion. Ouch.
Overall, it is suggested that project managers try to forgive mistakes, use schedules instead of strictures, and listen before leaping to conclusions or assigning blame if they want to improve staff productivity in their workplace.