Fear kills the company’s productivity engine
- August 29, 2016
- Posted by: admin
- Category: JR organization
Unhappy employees are disengaged and unproductive. Address their fears and reap these surprising benefits Nothing tanks workplace culture faster than fear. Researchers at Harvard Business School and Penn State found that fear in the modern workplace has reached epidemic levels, dissuading employees from speaking up and voicing important issues related to the business. Whether employees fear retaliation, punishment, humiliation, or being fired, the study revealed that this emotion quickly leads to dissatisfaction and lowers productivity levels. Once this happens, you’re not far from creating a domino effect that can torpedo creativity and lead to disengagement throughout the company. Fear is also the primary cause of much of the bad behavior you see in companies, from office politics to poor communication. 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 particularly when it comes to retention. In other words, fear kills the company’s productivity engine.
How to Create a No-Fear Organization
1. Rethink “entitlement” If you’re a director, VP, or executive, you come equipped to instill fear in your teams through your title alone. Imbalanced power dynamics based on hierarchy can inspire fear in those who report to you, leading people to share information selectively, as through rose-colored glasses. When you only hear what people think you want to hear, you miss out on a lot of important noise. You’re screened from the truth, which is what any business really needs to thrive, improve, and reach its vision. Empower our employees to select an appropriate external title for their business card to share with the outside world. A company that really values titles is one where there’s also likely to be more fear. By making titles less important, you can break down a key element of the fear factor right off the bat, even with new hires.
2. 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. one of company’s core values must be called “Seeking the truth.” In practice, this principle simply means that the truth is our top priority. It’s everyone’s job in the company to constantly seek the truth and try to improve things, which requires candid feedback and input. It requires the absence of fear. You get there by building a culture of continual learning based on improvement, replacing the culture of fear based on reprisals. It’s the job of leadership to help teams succeed not by top-down, command and control hierarchy, but by showing everyone it’s OK to share new ideas and point a finger at something that’s broken. When leaders can lead more like coaches than bosses, the resulting culture breeds people who aren’t afraid to be truth-tellers.
3. Limit the rulebook. Too many rules reflect too little trust. When you really trust your team, you don’t need as many rules. Reaching the point where that level of trust permeates the culture is important, because trust is a fear-buster that will result in employees feeling better about the company and its leadership team.
4. Measure systems, not people. W. Edwards Deming proposed a theory to measure the performance of systems, not people, to help drive fear out of organizations. As one of Deming’s 14 Points on Total Quality Management, he advised eliminating numerical quotas for the workforce, as well as numerical goals for management. You can’t have a culture of continual improvement if people are afraid of suffering serious financial consequences as a result of their individual performance.
5. Find a feedback channel. How can you be sure you’re hearing what you need to hear rather than what people think you want to hear? Build a Brain Trust. Taking the lead from Ed Catmull who created “The Pixar Braintrust” to help the animation giant score box office hits.
Whether it’s through revamped titles, fewer rules, or ferreting out a new feedback loop, the goals are the same: to replace fear with empowerment. Leaders who succeed in creating a no-fear culture will be rewarded with teams that spend less time on “cover your ass” behavior and more time helping you build a flourishing business.