Writing in the US print edition of ComputerWorld, Paul Glen makes a solid argument against managers using fear as a tool to bully additional effort from information technology workers during times of lay-offs and a weakening job market.

His comments apply pretty much across the board for all knowledge workers, see Fear: The Great De-motivator.

Glen says managers are unlikely to come right out and tell employees their jobs will threatened if they don’t work harder. But they

…will be tempted to allow rumors to run wild, unchecked by reassurances. They may feel that a bit of fear and anxiety brought on by concerns about career and financial security is just what the efficiency expert would order to improve productivity.

As he points out this isn’t ethical. Moreover, it’s unlikely to work as knowledge workers doing creative intellectual work are hardly able to perform at their best when they are worried about putting food on the table next month.

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