Do you remember how a few years ago a photo with Chinese sales managers, standing on their knees, went viral and hit all news feeds? The employees, being at fault before their company for disrupting the monthly sales plan, were ordered to stand in such position in the middle of the bridge for one hour in front of all citizens, and, besides, with a humiliating piece of paper that says the employee’s name, last name and his fault. Moreover, that happened, just think of it, in China, where the loss of social trust is worse than any torture. It is difficult to assume how effective such preventive measure was. The sales managers might really have sold more products in the following month. Though, it is unlikely that the salesperson, trembling with fear and angry at his management, will give a good result. Just like any other employee, whether in China or Ukraine, where the personnel may be trained and punished not so ingeniously, but sometimes with the same level of assiduity and “delicacy”.
Of course, all prosperous companies have their system of penalties, and apparently, partly thanks to it, they achieved success. The fear of becoming the focus of chief’s anger or losing some stake of salary disciplines and encourages the personnel not to be late for work, make mistakes and step over the bounds. Meanwhile, the permanent state of discomfort and understanding that the management trains you like a dog, rubs your nose in some trifles (not relevant to your real work) and besides very often in a tone of contempt (which HR managers apparently develop for years), cannot stimulate any creative work. That is why it is no wonder that only certain type of people – organized, diligent and used to punishments – survives in the companies with well-honed system of negative motivation, while proactive and creative persons quit promptly.
It also happens that the management gets too much carried away and does not feel the limit of psychological strength of employees. Beyond this limit, the people get broken and stop believing that the punishment can be avoided. Do you remember the experiments of U.S. psychologist and behaviorist Burrhus Frederic Skinner? If the dog is systemically electrocuted under certain conditions, it can be trained, let us say, not to do something. However, if it is electrocuted disorderly, the animal does not even attempt to avoid its coming. The excessive and illogical punishment results in the phenomenon of learned helplessness and stops motivating to observe rules.
Of course, any adequate chief (and his human resources department) understands that he should not disrespect his employees. However, during the crisis, we would like to remind of it more often. Many companies exit from the market and cut down their staff, banishing thousands of specialists out in the street. And the panic fear to lose any job and stability, while the prices inexorably go up, and you cannot tighten your belt any more, makes employees put up with rules, keep silent and tolerate all blows to their ego.
However, it does not mean that they do not have the right to choose. In the relationships between a company and a hired employee there are two parties, who agree to the same rules of play. If a person kneels down, tolerates insults, threats, yelling and arguments voluntarily – should we blame his director for it?
On the other hand, it is unforgivable to squander human resources during difficult times for the company. It is the attention to personnel what can become the most right investment. When the profit plummets, and the company has to implement the austerity policy, you may not find funds to increase salary or pay reward to your employee, but you can always praise his work, say thanks or even forgive the mistake. Because people remember gratitude the same as censure for long. There are some firms, in which for several months the specialists worked without salaries and premiums, sometimes overtime, but did not quit. Because the attitude is humanly. Because the atmosphere is good and the work is interesting. And will the employee, who hates himself for tolerating humiliation, be so loyal? I doubt that. So maybe, sometimes it is worth “loosening nuts” a little, isn’t it?