“I’m afraid of you”: how to deal with stress and fear when communicating with bossesDaniel - December 8, 2020
We can talk a lot about mutual benefit, common interests, and parity, but the relationship with management is initially unequal. The boss has a certain power over his subordinates, he is perceived as an authority figure. This alone can cause anxiety in an employee who feels that his professional destiny depends on the decisions of the manager. Therefore, subordinates try to be careful in communication.
As a rule, fear of authority increases in two cases:
- Firstly, if the subordinate has a strong social phobia. Usually, social anxiety is accompanied by unstable self-esteem, which turns the life of a subordinate into a personal little hell: the opinion of others is very important for him, he has no initiative, he is afraid of criticism and negative feedback.
- Second, a strong hierarchical culture within a company can contribute to fear. For example, when it is not customary in the team to argue with the management, to express their opinion. The leader himself can also focus on the hierarchy – demonstrate strong disagreement with the opinions of his subordinates and promote an authoritarian leadership style.
In both cases, it is not the leader who loses, not the subordinate, and the company. A frightened employee is too busy with fears to change the company for the better, and a boss who is obsessed with his own opinion forgets that he is still weaker than synergy.
You can identify inappropriate, disrespectful behavior of a manager using anonymous assessment of the corporate climate by employees. If subordinates note the emotional pressure from the leader, his authoritarian approach, and the concept of “there are two opinions: mine and wrong,” then the problem lies in the boss.
If the majority of employees note the manager’s democratic management style and his friendly attitude towards subordinates, then the matter may be in the perception of the situation by the employee himself.
The case that the consequences can negatively affect the entire team. The lack of transparent feedback between employees and management not only spoils the relationship in the team but also interferes with business processes.
Fear of communicating with management creates a toxic atmosphere: subordinates hate themselves for their complexes, they hate even more those employees who have the courage to express their opinions openly. And, of course, they hate the bosses who allowed such an atmosphere in the team. All this is fraught with high employee turnover and low employee motivation. Besides, in this situation, management will not be informed when something goes wrong. The latter can interfere with effective work.
First of all, the boss must create an atmosphere of trust and show subordinates that he is the same person with the right to make mistakes. The manager should react constructively and adequately to treat the opinions and feedback from employees.
It is necessary to try to encourage open communication from subordinates, thank them for their suggestions, collect feedback from them in collective and individual forms. It is very important to convey to employees the idea that if they disagree with the manager on any issue, they will be heard, not fired.
It is important for employees not to forget that an employer is a person, not a celestial. He has his own fears, difficulties, and obligations. You don’t have to become friends, but you shouldn’t look at him from the position of “I’m a small child waiting for punishment” either. Try to form healthy professional relationships – ask your supervisor for advice if needed, offer your feedback if you have anything to say. Start with what seems least scary to you, and you will gradually realize that you shouldn’t be afraid in general.
We spend too much time at work to be surrounded by fear and discomfort … If your boss can’t take care of your psychological well-being, take care of it yourself.
And don’t forget that all recommendations can go to waste if you work with inadequate people. Even Robert Sutton has a corresponding book.