People who are attacked by management WILL defend themselves
A simple illustrated concept is show here. Basically, the reality is that people who feel they are being attacked by their management will defend themselves in some way. Often, this involves a personal situation, but often individuals may convince others that they are also being attacked. Or, the reality may be that the group IS actually being attacked! They will predictably circle the wagons.
A key is to involve and engage them in communications about perceptions about perceived issues. The Square Wheels facilitation tools are an excellent and simple tool to improve such discussions. We also have a coaching toolkit of materials and a teaching framework as to how to link the conversations to personal coaching and mentoring for performance improvement.