We have spent a lot of energy trying to reduce fear in the workplace. Peter Block talks about our obsession with workplace fear at length in this books and talks. He recently point it bluntly in a talk at the Organizational Development Summit 2003 in Chicago:
People keep saying that we need to remove fear from the workplace. I ask them, ‘Then where are you going to put it?’
The workplace has fear as a component of being in a marketplace. Some of it will always be there as long as we have competition and limited resources.
But some of this fear is gratuitous, such as a constant fear of being fired. Or just the abdication of managerial work by the people hired to do it.
At one job I had in a consulting firm, I showed up every day thinking that I’d be called in and told I was fired. It wasn’t a good way to live. The company obviously didn’t want me around on a full-time basis. The fear that I felt was a result of their poor management, that they would not come and confront the tough issues as bosses but instead waited for me to raise it.
Don’t reduce fear. Inject hope.
Hope will overcome fear naturally. Fear of the unknown falls away at the strength of hope, desire, joy, involvement.
Work on desires. Powerful positive emotional connections to work and the management culture are what the workplace needs.
Face fear and stir up courage. Confront conflict and find agreement. Acknowledge diversity but build unity of purpose.
Image Credit: Self Portrait (The Desperate Man), by Gustave Courbet, ca. 1843.