Fear Culture

A FearCulture is one in which all employees are afraid to show the product of the work because they feel threatened in that they might be fired.

A common response to perceived errors or mistakes in CorporateCulture? is to find the (ir)responsible people and fire them. See PeopleAreTheProblem. This is supposed to let other workers know that they are not allowed to make mistakes. The result is that workers are so afraid to make mistakes that they hide whatever they produce. Whatever they do must not be known by others because any perceived failure will be considered a reason for termination.

Since it is very hard to coordinate people when they are not willing to deliver, this produces HeroCulture: Once you are too tired to fix things because you have been waiting for many hours late at night and on weekends for others to deliver, you now do not have the energy to criticize, much less to fix things.
The culture of fear thrives on broken communication. The culture of fear dictates that documentation is superior to interaction. The acronym CYA will be used. Status meetings will be ordered because the communication with management is so horrid, that managerial powers must be summoned to make people tell management what is going on. Power struggles take the place of actual work.

FearDrivenDevelopment is often a symptom of the greater culture along with the theory that PaperMakesSoftwareBetter.

In the FearCulture, processes are supposed to shield the company from the people. This is its ultimate AntiPattern.

-- KeithSader
I've seen organizations in which the FearCulture is so widespread that you are supposed to accept to go to meetings and hide information or else....

Employees begin to say funny things like If you can't convince them, confuse them and I know this is wrong, but the boss said this, the only problem is that they make so many similar remarks that you begin to think they are not joking anymore. Eventually everybody knows the project will fail, but all think the project will fail for different reasons and there is nothing they can do about it. If you raise a red flag, then you are conflictive. Lack of OpenCommunication? is one symptom that the project is in a DeathMarch.

Formal information (that is: Written and public information), and in particular using a TaskDatabase, is a solution because you don't need permission to express your ideas and they become widely known. It doesn't matter how dumb your ideas are, they must be addressed as appropriate. Also the most talkative doesn't monopolize the conversation. Middle managers can't hide the problems from upper managers. Communicating risk to all the team at once is not seen as a lack of respect. -- GuillermoSchwarz

A way to get out of FearCulture is RapidFeedback.
See RapidFeedback, HeroCulture, FearOfChange, FearOfTheUnknown, FearOfAddingClasses, FearOfSuccess

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