Isolation – office cliques pose the threat of isolation for any employee. When cliques and groupism exists, people live in constant fear of their exclusion from such groups. In some workplaces the groups are very well guarded and being part of it is not easy. The more the number of such groups, more the chances of office politics.
Failure – very rarely do you find employees in today’s highly competitive world not fearing failure. While its almost a cliché to state that ‘failures are stepping stones to success’ how many of us are comfortable with failing? When stakes are high, this fear increases many notches and leads to high amount of stress in people. When failure is not acceptable in workplaces it constrains creativity and innovation. You would end up creating processes which convert humans into machines.
Rejection – is another fear which people are constantly trying to deal with. It leads them to be guarded in their communication and expression of ideas. Most often this fear is what leads to a total communication lock-down in teams and organizations.
Humiliation – especially in front of others is one of the most common ones which you see from your early schooling. People are constantly worried about the mistakes they would end up committing and the resultant humiliation they have to face in front of others, by way of reprimands or ridicule. This makes them resistant to compelling action.
Livelihood – in today’s corporate world where ‘money’ is the sole reason for businesses to be existent, people end up purely as a commodity which can be dispensed with easily to reduce costs in case of difficult times. The sword of being laid-off always is hanging over the head of employees and they are in constant fear of losing their livelihood and the support it provides to their families and self. This can lead them to be fiercely competitive and follow the principles of ‘dog eat dog’. It’s a matter of survival after all.
Feeling useless – when employees are not given enough opportunities or responsibilities to exhibit their talent and contribute, they tend to feel useless. This in turn leads to the fear of they being dispensed with easily.
The goal therefore for leadership is to address these fears and create a strong culture based on a clear set of human values and beliefs. By giving them the power to make decisions and offering trust and empathy, leader can create a Circle of Safety. When you create such an environment, employees are freed from the constant threats from within the organization and can start investing their energy to seize big opportunities which exist outside the organization.