Fear in the workplace incorporates dread of change or ambiguity, poor performance appraisal, termination of employment and making mistakes (Savolainen & Häkkinen, 2011). Also, the fear extends to being perceived as foolish, fearing the bosses and the consequences of not attaining various targets. In this way, fear at the workplace may get in the way of an employee being productive or the leaders/managers may use it where appropriate.

Fear gets in the way of productivity in numerous ways. In the first place, when the employees have fear in the workplace, they will not take initiatives without seeking approval from the immediate supervisors. Workers are hired based on certain qualifications. These qualifications enable them to make a proper judgment at the workplace and subsequently are entitled to embark on different initiatives without seeking approvals (Savolainen & Häkkinen, 2013). Consistently seeking approval to undertake various activities results in time wastage, the supervisor losing confidence on a worker and possibly making mistakes. Also, fearful employees will avoid undertaking various tasks to evade erring. As such, these workers will be deemed as lazy or incompetent to undertake they work. Additionally, fear gets in the way of productivity through making workers unsettled and disorganized. Unsettled and disorganized workers will normally take a longer time to finish tasks allocated to them. Most time will be wasted worrying about failure or finding items needed to finish assignments (Savolainen & Häkkinen, 2011). Fearful employees will occasionally be startled and drop things particularly those who fear their employees. Further, the employees will always perceive themselves to be wrong. As such, interaction at the workplace will be reduced eliminating teamwork which is essential for the successful accomplishment of the organizational goals.

Managers or leaders can use fear in various appropriate instances. For example, when an employee misbehaves intentionally, uncooperative or occasionally late. Further, employees may at times be a nuisance at the workstation through dressing inappropriately or using language that does not suit a workplace environment (Murphy, 2016). In such circumstances, an employee needs to be warned that their behavior will not be tolerated. The employee could be informed that their employment will be terminated if certain behavior or attitude prolongs. Also, they could be informed of other forms of punishment include salary reduction which will, in turn, trigger fear.


Murphy, C. (2016). Fear and Leadership in Union Organizing Campaigns. SAGE Open, 6(1), 2158244015623932.

Savolainen, T., & Häkkinen, S. (2011). Trusted to lead: Trustworthiness and its impact on leadership. Open Source Business Resource, (March 2011).

Savolainen, T., & Lopez-Fresno, P. (2013). Trust as intangible asset-enabling intellectual capital development by leadership for vitality and innovativeness. The Electronic Journal of Knowledge Management, 11(2), 244-255.