No matter which side of the fence we sit on—manager, candidate, employee, recruiter—we all have fears. But, facing our fears, and deliberately pushing ourselves outside of our comfort zone, is an important path to self development, self-growth, career progression and promotion. So, what are the biggest workplace fears, and what can we do to overcome them?
1. Fear of public speaking. This is arguably the no. 1 workplace fear and can prevent people from progressing into leadership roles or sales roles if this fear can’t be overcome. There’s obviously a lot of advice on this topic on the internet, but I like this mayoclinic advice, largely because of its simplicity and relaxing tone. (How could you be stressed after reading that? It makes it sound so easy.) The eight key tenets to combat fear of public speaking were: know your topic, get organized in advance, practice and practice more, do some deep breathing, focus on the material not the audience, don’t be afraid of a moment’s silence and recognize your success. Their final tip is to get support by joining a public speaking group, like Toastmasters.
2. Asking your boss for a pay raise. Another big fear that employees have is asking for a raise. This is a fear of the unknown and a fear of rejection. The truth is it’s perfectly okay to ask for a raise, and it can support your career aims if done in the right way. What people often fear is that they don’t know the right way to ask for a raise. So, the advice here is simple: If you want to ask for a raise, prepare a business case showing your positive contribution and achievements over the past year and perhaps make an economic case showing the market rate for this position. Once the case is prepared, schedule a meeting with your manager, prepare a script for yourself and present your case to your boss. Don’t fear rejection. If you are rejected, simply see this as an opportunity to ask your boss what specific improvements you need to make to be considered for a pay raise.
3. Interviews. Interviews are one of the biggest fears that candidates and employees can face, but once, again there are many steps you can take to control your fears. The two big fears here are fear of the unknown and fear of failure. Control your fear of the unknown by demystifying the organization and interview process by carefully researching the role; the likely interview questions and models answers; the hiring managers and interviewers; and preparing your own questions. Remove the unknown and you’ll remove much of your fear. If you feel better prepared and better equipped you’ll feel more confident of success, which will mitigate some of the fear of failure.
4. Fear of losing your job. This is a big fear that all of us can have at one point or another, and this can be mitigated in two ways. Check that your fear of losing your job is actually justified, or is it paranoia? Are you performing well? Is the company performing well or okay? If there is some genuine job instability then look at your company’s layoff/dismissal policy to see what notice/ severance you may be entitled to. You may find that you have a safety cushion of two or three months in the company on top of your own savings safety cushion. You should be able to find a job within this time, meaning there is a minimal chance of you being penniless and this could mitigate your fear of losing your current job. If you do find you have a minimal safety cushion, consider getting a flexible work-at-home second job to provide more stability.