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This Halloween, Let’s Show Fear Who’s Boss

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This Halloween. Let's Show Fear Who's Boss

Thrive Checks keep us thriving.

And every time an organization brings us in to conduct one – whether because engagement is low, attrition is high, or culture or performance just seems off – we’re given the gift of learning something new.

In the five years we’ve been in business, whether delivering workshops or running Thrive Checks we’ve learned a great deal about organizations – what works, what holds people back, where the opportunities tend to lie, and much more. 

One of the threads that run, tragically, through many of these engagements is fear.

So much of what we learn during these Thrive Checks is that employees know what they could, should, and want to be doing to deliver stronger results. But they aren’t doing these things because – well – fear.

So in the spirit (get it? We made a Halloween joke!) of the Halloween season, we’re dedicating this issue to fear. But fear for the purpose of naming it – so we can stare it down and help our teams overcome it.

What’s holding members of your team back due to fear? Here are just a few of the ones we’ve uncovered.

Fear of not seeming busy.

Every organization wants to see collaboration. Connection. Innovation. But some of the greatest enablers of these outcomes – things like grabbing a coffee from someone on another team, reading an article on something compelling, or taking an online course (need we continue?) – are things we’re afraid to put on our calendars. Because what if someone needs us to do a “real” piece of work?

Leaders, until we honor time spent on these endeavors that truly push our thinking, strengthen our bonds with and knowledge of other parts of the organization – then we’ll never truly be operating at our best. So remove the fear. Support your teams in making these choices and help them protect that time.

Fear of asking/challenging.

When you’re in that meeting and the leader has finished her presentation and is now asking for clarifying or challenging questions. And you have them. But you don’t speak up. Because fear. Fear of not being seen as a team player. Of being a doubter. Of being part of the problem rather than the solution. 

So often, well-intentioned leaders ask for our questions and concerns, but fail to remove our fear around offering them. We need to show them that it’s safe. If a valid question is posed – first and foremost praise the bravery. Express gratitude for the question. And then narrate your thinking around it. Let people see that their courage is pushing your thinking. That it’s appreciated. And most importantly – that it’s nothing to fear.

Fear of posing an idea.  

We’ve engaged with so many teams at this point that are sitting on great ideas – big and small – that have the potential to create internal efficiencies, expand product offerings, enhance the quality of customer service. But these ideas remain unspoken for fear that they will fall on deaf ears.

Too many organizations have gone down the road of asking for suggestions, and yet they lose momentum before they close the loop. Our employees’ observations and ideas are gold. We need to be mining them. And to do this effectively we must consistently close the loop.

Not every idea is a winner. But every idea deserves closure. If it’s a yes, recognize it. If it’s a no, explain why – help them understand the process by which it was considered so they can sharpen their proposal next time.

Leaders. Invite your team to share their fears with you. And more importantly, ask what role you can play in supporting their overcoming these fears. If it makes them better and bolder, it makes you better and bolder. 

Everyone wins. It’s a trick and a treat!

Happy Halloween!

Related: It’s Time to Rethink Productivity

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