Fear is that hidden factor present in every organization, preventing leadership from achieving the growth they desire. In the 2 previous articles, I brought up the types of employee fears and how that fear can negatively impact a given organization. Additionally, I brought up the importance of assessing these fears and understanding how they’re specifically affecting your organization. In this third and final article in this series, I’ll explore what leadership can do to mitigate these fears towards cultivating a culture of trust and empowerment.
Mitigations: Specific and Tailored for Given Fear
First, mitigations should be specific to the given fear and its effects. And similar to how FMEA ratings give more focus and attention to failure modes with the highest combination of severity and occurrence, more attention should be given to those employee fears with the highest occurrence and severity. This points back to the importance of doing an employee assessment that addresses each of the common employee fears that I brought up in the second article.
Now there are some general recommendations to mitigating fears that will go a long way towards improving employee growth, motivation and productivity. Addressing these fears can improve not only the individual but the organization as a whole.
The Role of Leadership
First and foremost, addressing fear in an organization starts at the top. Leaders have a significant impact on the level of fear within their organization. Leaders need to resist the temptation to control those who work for them by using covert and overt forms of bullying. Leaders who rely on fear as a motivational tool may achieve short-term results, but they fail to foster a positive and sustainable work environment. Conversely, effective leadership understands the importance of creating a culture that encourages open communication, collaboration, and personal growth.
Promote Those Who “Play Well” with Others
A factor in employee promotions to positions of leadership should be how well they “play” with others. Openly communicate this to those desiring to follow the management path and then stick to this. And the corollary for this also holds: Don’t promote anyone who “doesn’t play well” with others.
Yearly 360 Reviews
360 reviews can help leadership see if there are any trends in employee fear by department. Getting input from those who work with and for an individual can give a different perspective that individual shows upward to a leader. These reviews can help reveal departmental differences in work environments and uncover any pockets of fear. It’s incumbent on the leader to understand, address and act when such reviews uncover fear originating from a given manager, director or department.
Encourage Open Communication
Establishing open lines of communication is vital for building trust. Leaders should create safe spaces where employees feel comfortable expressing their ideas, concerns, and challenges. Regular team meetings, one-on-one check-ins, and anonymous feedback mechanisms can facilitate this process.
Embrace Failure as a Learning Opportunity
Fear of failure often paralyzes employees and hinders innovation. Leaders should create an environment where mistakes are seen as opportunities for growth and learning. By encouraging experimentation and providing support during setbacks, leaders can foster a culture of resilience and continuous improvement.
By understanding the impact of fear and implementing strategies to overcome it, leaders can foster a culture of trust, empowerment, and innovation. In this series, I covered:
- Fear impacts EVERY organization- stifling innovation, hampering collaboration, limiting growth and preventing “Continuous Improvement.”
- The importance of assessing an organization to understand the impact of specific employee fears and their effects.
- Mitigations should target fears with the greatest occurrence and severity.
- Some general actions leadership can take to mitigate employee fears.
A fearless organization is one where employees feel safe to take risks, share ideas, and challenge the status quo. Such an environment not only promotes individual and collective growth but also allows the organization to adapt and thrive in an ever-changing business landscape.