Banishing Fear in the Workplace

I was talking to a friend today, over lunch, about some challenges he has been experiencing lately at work.  As the Happiness at Work Expert, my friends know I am always willing to listen to their concerns.  Honestly, I learn so much from my friends about the dynamics of work related problems and am glad to coach them when needed.  It keeps my skills in top form!

Boiling it all down, he spends more time fixing customer miscommunications, struggling with computer program problems and fighting team morale issues than he does working his job each day.  After four months he is already thinking of leaving because he feels like he can’t do the work he was hired to do and more importantly he can’t meet his customer’s needs.

Unfortunately, he is not alone in his frustrations.  Many companies suffer from this problem.  I call it “Circle the Wagons Syndrome”.

I told my friend the problem is simple to see but harder to fix.  It seems that his workplace is filled with fear.  His store’s productivity has been down for awhile and everyone is now wondering if there will be layoffs and possible closing of the store due to lack of production.  The team is gripped with fear and people are shutting down.

When workplaces are filled with fear, no matter how caused, employees spend more time overcoming their fear based emotions than working. Fear in the workplace causes lack of communication, silos to form and wagons to circle for protection.  When this happens, not only do the employees suffer but the customers do too.  Remember my mantra…happy customers build business, unhappy ones go away…and don’t come back.

How do you fix a fear based workplace?  You enhance communication from the top down.  Yes, better communication can fix a lot of problems.  Here are a couple of my favorite solutions to enhance communication quickly.

1.  Management can survey the employees and ask what they think needs to change.  A well focused survey can quickly point out problems which can lead to solutions.  Remember, problems are nothing more than an opportunity for a solution.  The focus is always on the solution, not the problem.  If employees feel that they are being heard, appreciation grows, along with engagement.  Productivity will naturally rise.

2.  Training also helps, such as DISC behavioral profile training which enhances communication and understanding on all levels.  When people better understand each other and can communicate in a style that is empowering, fear fades and relationships grow.

I hope my friend benefitted from my advice today…if not, there is a company out there who is likely to lose a tremendous worker.  Employees are a company’s greatest asset.  It is a shame to waste assets.



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