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Paula Marshall's Blog

The musings of a female CEO, trying to change the way business is done.

One of our consultants at Bama, Dusty Staub, preaches that the number one factor facing most companies is Fear. Fear presents itself in many capacities. In Susan Older’s recent article, the fear is surrounding the loss of jobs and worsening unemployment rates. This is a concern for those employees who are worried about being the next to go. We’ve all heard stories about perfectly hirable people failing to find jobs and not being able to support themselves. This causes rampant fear for those still in the workplace, and an almost feverish need to follow instructions and diminish reasons to be singled out.

However, in a more traditional economy, fear was still a cause for concern. Fear manifests in these key ways:

  • Fear of Confrontation; being afraid to tell someone how you feel, or confront an issue head on. This can lead to gossip and unnecessary workplace drama.
  • Fear of being ostracized; fear around being criticized for an idea or contribution. This leads to a lack of participation and lack of creativity.
  • Fear of Ridicule; this could have to do with workplace bullying or a hostile work environment. When coworkers are close, there tends to be more of a fear of ridicule, usually the less productive workers ridicule the productive workers about working too hard, or making everyone else look bad. This leads to a slowing down of the productive worker’s achievements.
  • Fear of Discrimination; race, gender and sexual orientation are still issues in a lot of offices. Some minorities choose to fly “under the radar” to avoid being singled out.

Fear is bred from uncertainty. Therefore the way to alleviate fear is to create an environment in which information is openly shared, discussed and understood.  An open and honest environment allows employees to ask questions, to be given feedback and to share concerns. There is much less fear when everyone is accepted as an equal contributor to the team.

In order for an employee to feel confident that they will be accepted, they must be loved and appreciated no matter who they are, they must be given honest feedback, not ridicule, they must feel that they will not be excluded or left out intentionally because of an idea, and they must know that if they confront a problem, it will actually get resolved. This is the key to helping our employees feel safe and secure at work, and not letting fear rule anyone’s decisions.

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