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You Might Just Be Running A Fear-Based Work Culture! Here’s How to Identify and Weed Out The Problem

According to a recent study, a scant 1% of employees feel confident when it comes to voicing their opinions in the workplace! A third of the employees say that their organisations do not support holding critical conversations with employees!

Fear is a major work culture killer! It slows organizations down, drives stress, and keeps individuals from reaching their potential in effectively supporting their organizations.

The most crippling aspect of working in a fear-based workplace is that it is not easily identifiable. It hurts the company’s bottom line in the long run, as nobody likes working in a stifling environment.

Scared Employee

Here are some striking signs that you might be running a fear-based work culture and ways to beat it!

Signs Of A Fear-Based Work Culture And How To Weed It Out Completely!

If you notice these signs, you are working for or running a fear-based organisation!

1. Problems Are Left Unresolved

There is too much reliance on managers and HR people, as people cannot think in an independent manner without fear.

They follow the rule book and refuse to act if there is a need to deviate from the set policies. Problems are never discussed openly and even if they are, reaching a consensus is impossible!

2. Public Humiliation

One of the things that human beings fear the most is being humiliated and that too publicly. The people who propagate fear in a workplace know that it is not necessary to humiliate everyone - they pick out one person every once in a while and humiliate them in a board meeting or some large gathering.

This instils fear amongst the rest of the people of the same thing happening to them. A lot of times people are humiliated in front of the HR, just to validate the entire episode! Such behaviours can end up scarring people for life.

3. A Biased Environment

In a fear-based work culture, the smartest and most capable employees do not get promoted. Instead, people who are ready to give in to their superior’s wishes and perform their actions as they are commanded are given more importance; while those who question the norms and try to approach every problem from a practical standpoint are ignored.

4. Questions Are Asked Selectively

During annual review sessions or other team meetings, the discussions seem premeditated.

Open sessions hardly fulfil the need to gather an honest feedback from the concerned employees, instead questions are carefully curated and nobody addresses the elephant in the room. The unsaid rule is, ask questions but only the ones the leaders want to be asked.

5. Atmosphere Of Mistrust

A supportive atmosphere at work means stronger unity and co-workers pulling for one another. But if you are in a fear-based work culture, co-workers tend to exchange a lot of rumours and share gossip, causing mistrust and competition. There are constant fabricated talks floating around and people feel confused and unsure of things at the same time.

How To Weed Out A Fear-Based Work Culture?

Whether your employees fear retaliation, punishment, humiliation, or being fired, such emotions quickly leads to dissatisfaction and lowers productivity levels. While a culture of fear may temporarily make people work harder to try to avoid undesired consequences, leading through fear will always backfire on you, especially when it comes to retention. Here are some ideas that you can implement to completely weed out fear from your workplace

1. Limit The Rule-book

Too many rules reflect too little trust. When you really trust your team, you do not need as many rules. Reaching the point where that level of trust permeates the culture completely is important, because trust if a fear-buster that will result in employees feeling better about the company and its leadership team.

2. Encourage Mistakes

When mistakes occur at workplace, rather than getting upset and reprimanding the employee, try and determine what exactly went wrong. Were expectations unclear? Was a faulty system or process in place? Then sit down and ask the employee what happened and what could be done to prevent it in future. Most importantly, managers must be willing to share their own mistakes. This sends an important message that mistakes are considered opportunities for learning and helps in removing fear in employees minds.

3. Be A Truth Seeker

Since fear keeps people from saying what they really think, turning them into people pleasers rather than problem solvers, it can result in the leadership team having a skewed view of what’s really happening in the business. So in practice, this principle simply means that seeking out the truth should be the top priority. Its everyone’s job in the company to constantly seek the truth out and try to improve the things, which requires candid feedback and input. It requires the absence of fear.

4. Encourage Freedom

Encourage team members to share ideas openly without filtering or trying to assess whether the ideas have merit. The best brainstorming is unfiltered, and if you are interested in generating the best ideas, employees need to feel safe enough to express themselves freely.

Our employees spend most of their waking hours at the workplace and hence it is our duty to create a stress-free environment devoid of any fears, to get the best out of them.

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