BY ANDI GRAYDilemma: A wise person once told me that the fear of rejection is something that some people internalize—when you can let go of that fear, it’s empowering; if you don’t get there, it holds you back. I want to empower my people— encourage them to do more. I know I have to hold people accountable and challenge them: How do I do that without causing them to fear the increased responsibility and, instead, see the benefits—like earning more?
Thoughts of the Day: It’s all about approval and a secure sense of belonging. Make sure you and your employees are clear about what’s expected. Help each employee visualize success. Reassure your people that you will stand behind them one way or another, until they get to the other side of the problem. But you have to make sure that it’s not just lip service: Your employees will trust you if you’ve proven that you’ll stand by them, and will in turn trust themselves with making decisions for your company if you share that confidence.
A strong sense of well-being obviously starts from within, but it can be bolstered from the outside. Make it clear to your employees that any challenge to do more is really an opportunity to put those skills they’ve acquired so far to the test while seizing a chance to earn a better living or take on additional roles that will increase their opportunity and salary. Talk about how the challenge to reach for more is based on your confidence in the individual that is rooted in his or her past successes. Start and end by reinforcing with each employee how you’ve seen them succeed before, and as a result you can see them taking it even further by tackling this new challenge. In order to grow, everyone needs to take chances and challenge themselves.
Set out specific ground rules, like what is to be attempted, in what time frame, and what should result. Talk about how the “gut feeling” of anxiety can creep in when facing new challenges—and how that’s adrenaline fueling up to support the body’s fight-or-flight response. Encourage your employees to productively channel an inevitable adrenaline rush by taking action to move forward, rather than by getting stuck fighting to keep things the same.
Understand that a rush of adrenaline can also cause irritability and restlessness, nervousness and jitters, and even low blood sugar. Encourage your employees to get physical exercise and ample sleep, as well as eat healthy foods while going through the professional transition. Balance demands for change with rest periods to allow the body and mind to recover. For example, work on building new skills for a few hours, then go back to doing something that’s familiar and will yield an encouraging level of success for them.
Before launching into action, spend time with each employee creating a mental picture of what success looks like. Define the desired outcomes for the individual and for the company. Write out a scenario on paper of how that comes to pass. Role-play actions that have to be taken so that when reality strikes, it won’t be so unfamiliar or catch them off-guard—and possibly undermine the confidence that you both have worked to bolster. Role-play failures and then brainstorm and role-play some more so the employee knows what to do when those realities come to pass. Always end on a successful visual.
Even if it means that there’s no longer a role in your company for certain employees, you can stand behind them by offering to help them with the transition into a new job. Engage in a dialogue about career development. While you both might feel sad to see a working relationship come to an end, focus on how everyone will feel once the new opportunity is found.
Talk about motivation. Get to know your employees as people both inside and outside the business. Find out what drives them and what they fear. Offer reassurance that you’ll be there for support as they work through their challenges. Ask what each employee wants to achieve personally and professionally. Focus on the outcome—what each employee hopes to gain by facing and overcoming obstacles, and how that will benefit both them and your company in the long run. [CD0217] Looking for a good book? Try “Stress: Survive and Thrive” by Robert Hale.
Andi Gray is the Founder of the business consulting firm Strategy Leaders. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.