The recent financial crisis has introduced a new dynamic to the lives of many Americans—they are living with fear. This feeling presents new challenges for business leaders and professionals of all levels.
But beyond the current losses in real estate and on Wall Street, we have lost something much more valuable. Our peace of mind has been irrevocably altered. The upshot for business is that employees’ risk tolerance has been significantly lowered, affecting everyone from the CEO on down.
Fear affects our productivity, our communications, our ability to create and our emotional well being. In order for us to deal with this new threat, we must first and foremost learn to identify its existence. Living in denial will only hold us back, and it will create a country that stops functioning because everyone is angry and scared.
Our lives are being permeated by words such as “meltdown,” “depression/recession” and “bailout.” People are afraid to spend money, or to even leave it in the bank, and businesses are closing daily. To find a solution, discussion is encouraged. Make it safe for your people to communicate their feelings.
There is a real bottom line payoff to understanding how these current events affect your business, as well as your life. With the highest unemployment rates in decades, people fear their livelihood, as well as their basic survival. If you can’t see how that would affect your business, then take some time to reflect. The decisions you make now will affect your company, your life and the lives of the people who work with you.
Anyone who has run a company for several years has seen a few downturns. In some small and closely held businesses where a family dynamic is more likely to exist, staff are kept on even during difficult times. In the majority of private, and almost all public companies, decisions about layoffs are based on the bottom line and staff members know it. Therefore, if you don’t open the lines of communication, your employees will act out their feelings of fear and could subconsciously make or avoid decisions affecting the entire company.