Fear Dynamics 101: Part 4, Reaping the Benefits of a Fear Audit
Welcome to the final part of my four-part series: Fear Dynamics 101. In Part One, “Defining Fear Dynamics,” I introduced the concept. In Part Two, “Recognizing the Warning Signs,” I illustrated several common symptoms of fear that arise in group settings, so you know what to look for. In Part Three, “Counting the Costs of Fear Dynamics,” I discussed the potential consequences of failing to address the fear factor in business. In this part, I encourage you to take the first step toward identifying and addressing fear in your organization and business deals — by conducting a fear audit.
A fear audit provides an objective analysis of interactions within an organization, between among parties involved in a business deal, or between an organization and its clients or vendors in order to identify and correct fear-driven behaviors and communications that often undermine business deals and that hinder performance and productivity. A fear audit is a four-step process, preferably conducted by an objective, third-party observer with expertise in fear dynamics:
- Perform an initial assessment. During the initial assessment, the observer meets with the organization’s leaders to gain insight into perceived problem areas — relationships among personnel or with customers, vendors, or other external entities — and gather initial thoughts on desired outcomes.
- Observe and identify fear-driven behaviors and interactions. The observer meets with and individuals and groups targeted in the initial assessment without disclosing the nature of his work. He watches and listens to interactions during team meetings, presentations, debriefings, sales calls, and other dealings. He may also interview individuals or groups to gather additional information and insight.
- Analyze observed behaviors and interactions. The observer begins his analysis by comparing actual to desired behaviors in order to identify areas that may require corrective action. After detecting a problem area, deeper analysis is conducted to identify the fear source, which may be internal, external, or a combination of the two. A classic example of an internal fear source is an employee who fears a supervisor’s disapproval. But external fears may also affect performance; for example, a manager may be experiencing family issues that are contributing to fear-based interactions in the workplace.
- Develop a game plan. The game plan includes the purpose of the Fear Audit, the Fear Audit findings, a schedule of action items, and a list of performance milestones. Action items may include meetings with individuals or groups, seminars or workshops, changes in policies or the ways in which those policies are communicated, and outside counseling, to name a few. Obviously, the plan will vary depending on the fear source, but any plan to eliminate or overcome the fear source requires leadership buy-in, a timeline for completion, actionable goals, and measurable results.
A fear audit is nothing to be afraid of. It is something to be embraced. Removing the obstacles of fear clears the path to success both for the organization and its individual members.
Disclaimer: The information in this blog post is provided for general informational purposes only, and may not reflect the current law in your jurisdiction. No information contained in this post should be construed as legal advice from Stephen Dietrich, nor is it intended to be a substitute for legal counsel on any subject matter. No reader of this post should act or refrain from acting on the basis of any information included in, or accessible through, this Post without seeking the appropriate legal or other professional advice on the particular facts and circumstances at issue from a lawyer licensed in the recipient’s state, country or other appropriate licensing jurisdiction.
About the Author: Stephen Dietrich is an attorney and author who has a passionate interest in the human side of business. His distinctive combination of legal and business knowledge, human insight, and dedication to clients makes him uniquely qualified to help corporate leaders and other C-level executives navigate high-value mergers and acquisitions, restructure transactions, and manage day-to-day operations. Through this blog, Stephen shares his extensive experience and unique personal and professional insights in the hope of stirring thought and dialogue that leads to ever deepening insights and understanding. For more information, please visit www.StephenDietrich.com.
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