Wednesday 17 April 2019

How to be brave at work and face your fears

There’s a saying that goes: why fit in, when you were born to stand out! However, many of us have a deep-rooted fear of failure or criticism in the workplace, which means we are more than happy to stay beneath the radar and remain unnoticed. While this may work for a time, there are occasions at work – when negotiating pay rises or promotions, for example – that we have to stand up and be counted.

It’s not uncommon to have sleepless nights at the thought of having to give a presentation in front of a crowd or when faced with the prospect of being more assertive with a colleague to resolve an issue. But in order to move forward it’s absolutely necessary to overcome our fears and step outside of our comfort zone for time to time.

Fortunately, there are strategies that you can practise to build your confidence and give you the courage you need to be brave and assert your ideas.

What’s the worst that would happen?

The moment you choose to overthink and imagine outcomes of a situation, you fill yourself with fear. Let’s face it, you’re unlikely to lose your job just because you’ve expressed a well-thought out idea or asked for a pay rise. So sometimes, it really does help to think about what the worst outcome would really be – and it’s never as bad as your initial emotional reaction. When you approach any situation from a calm, logical perspective, you’ll realise the outcome is usually much more positive than you imagine. Practise this and you could save yourself days of stress in the process.

Building confidence

In order to be brave at work, you need to build confidence and have self-belief that your ideas are worthy and that your opinions matter. Begin by expressing your thoughts clearly and make sure you back up your views with research – people can’t argue with facts! Practise the conversations in your head – or engage your friends and family members in some role play exercises. Remember, not everyone is going to agree with you all the time, but everyone brings a unique perspective to their work, so chances are your opinion might address something that others hadn’t even considered.

Attitude is everything

Our automatic reaction to addressing a colleague who doesn’t agree with our opinions is usually to become defensive. We take criticism personally, when it’s usually not intended to be. The best response is to give people the opportunity to address their issues with you personally and answer them as best as you can – calmly. Remember, it’s about working as a team for the best interests of the company. Defend your views confidently but be willing to listen to others’ views at the same time. No-one gets it right all the time. One of the best ways to overcome your fears is by accepting constructive criticism. Sometimes, it can be a hard pill to swallow but it’s a great way of increasing your confidence. When we accept our own flaws and mistakes, we learn how to improve ourselves and will find that people will begin to respect us more as a result.

For some more tips on how to build confidence, read one of our previous blog posts here.

Wednesday 3 April 2019

Making the leap to leader

It’s not uncommon to experience a change in attitudes and relationships when making the transformation from co-worker into leader. Peers who were once your friends are now the people whose performance you are driving and whose potential you are hoping to realise.

It can be an extremely difficult move from co-worker to leader, but there are ways that you can avoid any negativity and make a smooth transition. This article from The Psychologist looks at some of the ways to make the successful leap from co-worker to leader and whether it’s jealousy from your peers that you’re facing, or a lack of respect, here is some helpful advice.

Skill up

Your employer must have seen your management potential, but your peers may not – yet! So a great way to help you manage the transition to leader is by attending a management course. It may not teach you anything you don’t know, but it's a good way to validate your new role with your co-workers and meet other people in a similar situation as yourself. Training also gives you the opportunity to discuss your concerns with someone other than your boss or former peers.

Set expectations

Being open and honest about the change in your role is the first step to acceptance. Arrange one-on-one meetings with your team and discuss what these changes will mean to the team. It’s important to clear the air and get any grievances out in the open from the word go. This can resolve any initial resentment and sets a precedent for the future. Allowing employees to share their feelings can also prevent them from discussing any issues with their colleagues, and promote an open door relationship going forward.

Manage your attitude

One of the reasons former co-workers may fear your new position is that they expect your attitude towards them to change. Although this will be true in some ways – you’ll need to manage their performance, for example - it’s important that you don’t take a dominating or oppressive management style. There’s a fine line between being over friendly and being dictatorial but once you’ve found the balance, they are more likely to respect your position.

Listen and include

Often, employees get frustrated at work because they don’t feel appreciated or included in management decisions. Ultimately, decisions need to be made by management but that isn’t to say you can’t take their thoughts into consideration beforehand. When planning goals, speak with your team and listen to their ideas – you could find that they have valid points and appreciate you asking for their input.

Give praise

There’s nothing more disheartening than achieving something great at work and either not being recognised for it, or management taking all the glory. Make sure you praise or reward your staff when they've gone the extra mile or have exceeded targets. You understand the job that they’re doing, so remember to make a point of recognising their efforts regularly.

Look and learn

One of the best ways to learn how to become a great leader is by observing how other managers behave towards their employees. Not only can you see how they create positive relationships, you can also learn from those managers who have yet to gain the respect and support of their team. Listen to how they speak to their staff, observe their body language and watch how their employees respond to them.