How to handle feelings of fear in your work

As the saying goes, “Feel the fear and do it anyway

Years ago, managers in organisations seemed to confuse respect with fear, and many felt that leading through fear was an essential part of success. Modern management styles, demonstrated by today’s leaders, suggest that there is no place for fear at work.

That said, today’s employees have also changed. They feel more entitled and are often less flexible, and rather than being afraid themselves, displace the fear – inadvertently – onto a manager who dreads giving feedback or having to share difficult news. So while the fear has changed over the years, it is most definitely still present in many organisations. It can be minimised and managed, but is unlikely to disappear completely.

Focus The Fear

At work, fear is often seen as dictatorial, top-down oppression, but that’s not always the case. Sometimes more junior members of staff behave badly and it is the fear of confrontation that prevents this from being managed properly and promptly, and the fear of a negative impact on the team. But poor management can been seen just as negatively.

Being in a management position means that you will often have to deal with performance that comes below par, and if you’re worried about the confrontation, flip it round; you’re not the one who should be feeling the fear. Outline your expectations clearly, and the repercussions of continued poor performance. Shift that fear.

Talk About Fear

Some leaders believe in keeping a professional distance from their employees, while others promote a more human side and aren’t afraid of showing that. Talking about concerns or worries, and then how you overcome them, can be a valuable learning tool for all involved, manager included.

Communication is such an important part of our work environment today that arguably it’s the most important skill for management teams to work on. It’s important for everyone to have a voice, and for employees to recognise that. A policy of openness will reap benefits in the longer term.

Feel The Fear

As the saying goes, “Feel the fear and do it anyway.” Being nervous about something, and being prepared to step out of your comfort zone, shows that you’re not complacent about success and that you’re keen to learn and progress.

And like any other emotion, fear is a valid thing to feel. Trying to remove all emotions from the workplace – imagine no joy or excitement either – and you have a pretty stale working environment.

A good manager should be able to recognise the purpose of each emotion from employees at work, and learn how to capitalise on them. That way, when fear does appear, either your own or an employee’s, you’ll be best placed to deal with it effectively and efficiently.

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The British Institute of Recruiters is the Professional Body operating The Recruitment Certification Scheme

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