The F-Word

The F-Word

Faisal Ghani Qureshi

Businesses today are driven by the F-word. Not a day goes by without mentioning it. People wake up and they are faced by it as they get ready for work and they face it when they return. They feel it during their coffee breaks, their lunch time, even at home at their dinner table. Their interactions with their colleagues, their bosses and their customers are all dictated by the F-word.

The word is fear. Businesses today run on fear. People are motivated not from the aspirations of achievement, but from the fear of failure. People come to work every morning with a cloud of fear over their heads. Will they be able to get to work on time? Will the boss be in a good mood? Will I be able to make my numbers this month and if not what will happen? Will my performance be evaluated fairly? Will I be judged for leaving early even though I've completed my tasks for today? Is the person who is being so friendly really trying to make acquaintances or are there other reasons for their interests?

Fear has become the driving factor in our daily work lives. We fear our bosses, we fear our colleagues, we fear our customers. Yes, we fear our customers as well. You'll notice this anytime the phone rings and the customer's number lights up the screen and you hesitate to pick up the phone. You fear facing the customer.

Fear has become such a factor in our daily lives that we don't even feel that it is wrong to be fearful all the time. We have started to consider a constant state of fear, of stress as normal. The constriction we feel in our chest when we are running 5 minutes late to get into work as we know the boss will chew us out for is considered as normal. Conversely if you are late leaving the office you are stressed that someone will consider it wastage of company resources.

You come to the office in a state of stress and leave the office in a state of stress. Waking up, you go through the motions of getting ready for work sluggishly as you are not motivated to face the day. Who likes to face a day that is full of stressful calls, meetings where bosses chew you out, suppliers who complain about payments? Who likes to face a day knowing that their every action will be scrutinized with the aim of putting them down? And when you leave office you dread coming in the next day knowing the cycle will be repeated?

You fear your job, your work, your office not because you are bad at your job. The atmosphere of fear is spread throughout organizations as a way to keep employees in check. Fear is considered a motivational tool. Sales are going down? Hold a meeting and tell everyone that their jobs are at stake. Employees are coming in late; threaten them with docking their pay. A project is not going well, tell the employees that their failures are being recorded and will go on their performance reviews and their permanent record.

However, in reality the atmosphere of fear is detrimental to work. Will an employee who fears for their job put in their 100% efforts to the job? Or will they apply just enough to get by and spend the rest of their time looking for something better? Will they spend their time fulfilling the customer demands? Will they spend their time delighting your customers? Will they be looking for opportunities to give growth to the company or will they be looking for avenues of escape?

What if your employees were not fearful? What if the environment they had in the office was not one of fear and stress? What if they felt secure at work? They could share their knowledge, extend a helping hand to colleagues, help their customers achieve their goals and the company achieve theirs without fear of reprimand?

They would know that their colleagues, their subordinates and their boss were all working in unison to achieve the company's goals. They would know that when they get stuck, other people would help them out. They would not fear that a slowdown would result in their boss yelling at them. Instead a slowdown would mean more interaction with the boss, a chance to learn how to handle the situation, and a chance to truly collaborate to get the work done.

The F-word is detrimental to business. It needs to be removed from the corporate vocabulary in order to ensure that people can work better and contribute to growth of businesses.