Some managers inflict serious damage by constantly generating fear. Fear is generated in a number of ways; temper tantrums which cause employees to be very careful about what they say or do, being inconsistent in handling issues, being loose-lipped and confusing , etc.
Big problems occur because of this kind of behavior. First, that manager is not likely to hear about any problems or get any fresh ideas on how to improve the place. People will adopt a bunker mentality and their goal will be survival. More importantly, top performers will likely be very unhappy. They tend to be more paranoid and the flare-ups and randomness will bother them.
If you are a manager, what can you do to avoid generating fear?
1.) Constantly ask your people, both publically and in one-on-one meetings, to tell you the problems.
2.) Constantly remind yourself to listen more and talk less. People gain confidence in a boss when they feel they can openly discuss things with that individual without always being judged.
3.) Simply walk around and talk to people in your organization in a very informal manner. That goes a long way in building trust and open communication.
If you are working for one of these fear generators, try politely telling the person how you are feeling. Use specific examples to make the situation as clear as possible. You may need to do this two or three times before you get through. If you never get through and things simply get worse, you owe it to yourself and to your mental health to look elsewhere within the company, or outside, for a job that will be more fun.