How learners can overcome fear

by Brett Henebery31 Jan 2017
Whether it’s a fear of change within their organisation, its processes or even other people, organisations and learners suffer from this mindset – and it’s more common than you might think.
In a TEDx Talk, Stop At Nothing’s (SAN) managing partner, Ted Powell, said “the fearful mind can hijack and disrupt project meetings, performance discussions, crisis management efforts, decision-making processes”.
SAN Australia’s managing director, Steve Hoskins, goes further: he says
“Fear is the single greatest inhibitor of performance and results for companies in Australia,” he told L&D Professional.
“Yet, most workers in companies are continually locked into a fear-state at some level every day of every week of every month of every year.”
Hoskins pointed out that this can range from fear of failure, fear of success, fear of direct line-manager, fear of sabotage by others, fear of exposure to humiliation, and so on.
How fear impacts on organisations 
Hoskins said the fight/flight/freeze reaction we have to fear-based scenarios will create three possible responses in the workplace:
  • Fight: confrontational meetings, adversarial relationships with managers/direct reports /colleagues /customers, passive-aggression in team environments, silos being created, under-mining, stone-walling and the list goes on…
  • Flight: absenteeism (sick days, late arrivals, general avoidance of the workplace), shrinking: disappearing around the workplace, avoiding meetings, staying “under-the-radar”, underperformance, just getting-by. 
  • Freeze: inaction, making no decisions, stagnation, status-quo maintenance, resulting in poor performance and excuses for inactivity and lack of improved results
Hoskins explained that open mindedness and awareness of one’s emotions is the key to recognising that things can be challenging, but learners enjoy work much more – and make much greater contributions – when they know that they are always doing the best they can.
“This is also the case when learners take enjoyment in the moments that make up working inside and organisation made up of myriad different people with varying experiences and talents,” he said.
“Being valued for who you are and the differences that make up a diverse workplace are the key here.”

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