This is Halloween month — a good time to pick at the fears and phobias many of us experience in the workplace.
We’ve all had at least one day filled with disturbances, upheavals and, sometimes, catastrophes at work. Most times, they work out just fine at the end. Other times, we take them home with us like an over-stuffed briefcase that needs attention immediately. It’s those days that can often turn into sleepless nights worrying over things that may or may not be within our control. My advice, if you can fix it, get it done the following day. If you can’t, bite down hard on your ego and get a trusted co-worker to help you figure it out.
Unfortunately, some worries are out of our control. For example, a recent Fortune article stated that, in a survey by Harris International, American workers’ biggest fear is still being fired or laid off. (Although, this was down from 9% to 4% over the previous study conducted in 2011.) Other major disturbances noted in the survey were taking jobs unrelated to one’s chosen career, unreasonable workload and stagnant earnings.
Granted, the economy is still not robust, but there are signs it’s getting better, so many employee fears that are out of their control may disappear over time.
And then there are the fears that may be considered self-imposed. Several months ago, CareerBuilder did an online poll of what employees fear most. Twenty-six percent fear getting yelled at by their boss, 23% fear forgetting to set their alarm and oversleeping, 18% fear presenting in front of a group, 15% accidentally hitting “reply all” to an email, 11% meeting with executives and 9% getting caught visiting an inappropriate website.
What’s the one thing all of these fears have in common? They can be controlled. By you! Sure, you may get yelled at by your boss because of something out of your control, or by an error you made. So, you made a mistake. I learned two things about fearing the boss early in my career. The first was to never avoid dealing with the problem immediately and head-on. Avoiding the problem will compound the outcome tenfold in a negative way. Second, if you cannot effect a change to correct a problem, then don’t worry about it. I was given this advice from one of my first bosses and it helped me deal with problems with confidence. We all make mistakes or have fears; it’s how quickly we deal with them that counts! Let your boss know what difficulties you’re struggling with. Believe me, a good boss wants to know and wants to help.
The other fears, as noted in the CareerBuilder survey are those which can be strictly controlled by you, using common sense. Set your alarm the same time each night (and check batteries twice a year). If your advancement depends on it, ask your boss to provide presentation skills training, or check out some ideas online to curb presentation fears. Don’t email angry! Prepare for meetings. Don’t visit inappropriate websites at work. Then, poof, the fears are gone.
ONE LAST THING…
Some employees feel trapped by fear of The Boss, because it is The Boss who holds what may appear to be subjective power that allows you to move up the career ladder and make more money. The reality is, in most situations, most bosses respect strong individuals who can overcome obstacles by intelligently asking for assistance and relying on help when needed with a difficult situation. This fear of The Boss, like most fears, is self-imposed and can be made to disappear with self-assurance and good judgment.