Sunday, December 5, 2010

2010: What will be the Patterns and their Implications ?

Diminishing Fear : Unravel all your mixed messages

Fear somehow touches almost every aspect of our lives. It is woven invisibly into the fabric of our existence and often sets into motion a chain of reactions and circumstances.

As leaders we need to ensure that fear does not consume our workplaces and degrade the performance of our people. The key to reducing fear at work is direct and clear communication that eliminates mixed messages- the catalytic driver of fear.

Communicative people are less fearful and more secure because they know where they stand. They are less afraid to ask the awkward questions and less intimidated to have difficult conversations. They know that meta-messages live inside of every communication, and they strive to create clarity and understanding.

For example, if you seek new business, you may fail to keep your team in the loop. As time passes, you leave your team without a leader. Soon your people feel disconnected from your activities. Worst-case scenarios seem to be whispered, and one-on-one side conversations echo the halls.

As a result, fear starts to dominate your team. It shows up as people start distrusting your leadership capability, turning to other leaders outside the team for advice and information, creating concentric circles of communication with others, and building mountains out of molehills.

Our sense of security and well being are profoundly affected by how well we are kept in the vital loop, how well our leaders interpret and integrate the dynamics and complexities of workplace life for us.

Tips for leaders:

How can you as a leader build an environment where people feel safe? Mixed messages cause employees to retreat into fear. For example, when you say you care about keeping people in the loop, yet fail to do so, you send meta-messages. When you talk with employees and give directives, but do not ask questions to clarify understanding, you set the context for mixed messages. Inevitably employees will think one thing while you say something else, and confusion will result.
Mixed messages create a metaphorical moat. We don’t know which side of the river we are standing on, and without the security of knowing where we stand, we can’t do our best.

Instead of allowing mixed-messages and worst-case scenarios to take over, set the context for inclusion:

1.Don’t be afraid to stand up for your people.

2.Keep an open mind even if you disagree with what is being said.

3.Respond rather than react.

4.Accept responsibility for the impact of the way you are communicating.

5.Don’t be a people pleaser.

Action : Turn down fear and turn up clarity.